Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race in America


Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
5.9 X 9.0 X 0.7 inches | 0.9 pounds

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About the Author

George Yancy is professor of philosophy at Emory University, where he specializes in the study of race and ethnicity. His influential books include: Philosophy in Multiple Voices (2007), White on White/Black on Black (2005), Narrative Identities: Psychologists Engaged in Self-Construction (2005, with Susan Hadley), What White Looks Like: African-American Philosophers on the Whiteness Question (2004), The Philosophical i: Personal Reflections on Life in Philosophy (2002), Cornel West: A Critical Reader (2001), and African-American Philosophers, 17 Conversations (1998).


This second edition of philosopher Yancy's book updates the cases and events since its 2008 publication. The new edition adds two chapters to expand the philosophical examination of whiteness in the US. Yancy challenges philosophers to engage the world, rather than focusing just on theory. Beginning with the 'myth of a post-racial America, ' the author examines the impact of the white body as seer on the black body as 'not mattering.' Yancy (Emory Univ.) explores the ontological element of the white gaze in US cultural constructs, noting that 'the white gaze in its active form, [is] implicative of a site of white power, hegemony, and privilege.' In the second edition, Yancy establishes the concept of suturing and unsuturing in a way that will open dynamic conversations with students. The second edition is a mandatory read for those interested in critical race theory. The book is engaging, but challenging in content. A background in philosophy is helpful, but not required. This intense and enlightening work will require all readers to self-assess, is a required purchase for libraries, and will be useful in upper-level race/philosophy courses. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above. Professionals.-- "Choice Reviews"
"George Yancy offers readers criticism that is philosophical in thought and intent, while remaining clear. It is work that is life-enhancing. Given the rise in racist terrorism and white supremacy globally, we are more in need than ever of work that shows us how our society places democracy at risk by upholding and maintaining systems of domination. Yancy's book highlights the issues and offers strategies for change."--bell hooks
"Professor Yancy offers eloquent testimony for a dangerous historical moment. He lucidly explicates America's bifurcated perceptual field where "whiteness" constructs and defends its narcissistic privilege by defining (through power alone) what is human and what is not. From the nation's founding to America's present state-sponsored murder and derogation of black lives, the white gaze has refused to acknowledge its brutal "bad faith." Enslavement, impoverishment, incarceration, and deaths of blacks are consequences principally of white ethical blindness. Yancy brilliantly defines and exemplifies an "embodied black philosophy" that charts the course for an examined national life, one where black lives actually matter."--Houston A. Baker Jr., Distinguished University Professor, Vanderbilt University
"With much of the courage and acumen of a W. E. B. Du Bois, Yancy here dissects and dismantles 'the souls of White folk.' The results are creating and liberating for all peoples, especially blacks enduring the structural violence of the white gaze. In Black Bodies, White Gazes, whether analyzing life-at-risk in the killing streets of the USA, in elevator encounters or in our progressive churches, Yancy delivers. This book has become a must in my classrooms. Read it. Teach it. Celebrate it. Then, keep sharing it widely!"--Mark Lewis Taylor, author of The Theological and the Political: On the Weight of the World
"George Yancy's work shows what engaged philosophy can be, taking on the complex and embodied processes of racialization to show that how we think and how we act is informed by the living legacies of racism. Yancy demonstrates what an ethically committed philosophy can be, asking its readers to examine their racial formations, whether to discover long-standing forms of racist subjugation or to examine the permutations of white complicity in anti-Black racism. His theory of the "white gaze" supplements and complicates the historical "male gaze" of feminist theory. Drawing from anti-racist writings, including the capacious work of women of color feminism, Yancy gives us a new way to think of philosophy as living, ethical, and engaged, demonstrating the violent toll on black bodies that accepted racism takes. This is critical thought that is rooted in the situation it seeks to clarify and transform. This is courageous and necessary work for our times, opposing at every instance the violence from which we too often look away."--Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature and Critical Theory, University of California, Berkeley