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The Invention of Race: Black Culture and the Politics of Representation

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Tommy L. Lott

One of the most startlingly original and provocatively radical scholars currently engaged in the study of culture and the concept of race.

Tags: Books
Author: Tommy L. Lott
Genre: Arts & Photography, Nonfiction
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
1 review about The Invention of Race: Black Culture and...


  • Dec 3, 2010
Tommy Lee Lott (born 1946) is Professor of Philosophy at San Jose State University.

He writes in the Introduction to this 1999 book, "Several overlapping social and political themes related to race and representation are explored in these essays... Each essay is autonomous, with several intersecting ideas regarding black culture and black identity... My aim throughout this book has been to treat the representation of black people as a dialectic of competing ideologies. But there is also an epistemological dimension. Social policy is often influenced by mainstream images that devalue black people and black culture... My reflections on arguments and ideas that challenge this image aim to sustain a tradition of resistance upheld by black social and political thinkers since slavery."

Here are some quotations from the book:

"A similar objection has been raised by Boxill who points out that it is simply false to maintain that every black American shares a common culture. Instead, Boxill proposes a physical definition of race that is reflected in the way the racist classifies people into races, whether they share a common culture or not." (Pg. 57)
"Sojourner Truth's famous quote, for instance, is sometimes rendered as 'Ain't I a Woman' or 'Ar'n't I a Woman,' depending on the author. If Truth spoke with a Dutch accent, however, it is a misrepresentation to attribute a black southern speech pattern to her. Moreover, if it is racist for a white transcriber to impute a black literary dialect to her, it seems equally racist for a black transcriber to do this. Sojourner Truth's speech will be misrepresented if remembered in standard English, in a conventional literary black dialect, or in any other dialect we invent for her. This is because an accurate transcription of her lost dialect is needed to gain access to the idiom captured by her manner of speech." (Pg. 86)
"Neoconservatives, who have adopted the culture-of-poverty frame to condemn black culture as pathological, have failed to realize the nature of the cultural imperative that obligates the black middle class to endeavor to elevate the masses of black people. In the late twentieth century this imperative must be understood to allow the masses of black people to assimilate with their culture intact, that is, without rehabilitating it to meet the standards imposed by the mainstream society." (PG. 126)

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