Beyond the White Negro: Cross-Racial Empathy and White Audiences of African-American Culture
Beyond the White Negro: Cross-Racial Empathy and White Audiences of African-American Culture challenges current scholarship that dismisses cross-racial sympathy as condescending and politically anemic. To the contrary, I argue that white readers’ encounters with black-authored texts can be instrumental in the formation of anti-racist political identities. Rooting my claims in ethnographic research and textual analysis, I uncover instances of “white Negroism” in contemporary culture that undermine white privilege. Chapters of the book analyze Oprah’s Book Club and private book clubs reading African-American literature, white-produced hip-hop literature and performance art, and films about interracial romance and racial conflict. While my research confirms that cross-racial sympathy can often resemble a colonizing appropriation of blackness for white needs, Beyond the White Negro also spotlights instances of crossover that function as radical acts of treason against white privilege. Contributing to the new field of “whiteness studies,” my project highlights the development of anti-racist white identities within and through contemporary American literature and popular culture. A FLRG will enable me to draft the introduction and final chapter on interracial films, and consult film archives in Los Angeles while presenting a paper at the Cinema and Media Studies conference.
Davis, Kimberly (2009). Beyond the White Negro: Cross-Racial Empathy and White Audiences of African-American Culture. Faculty and Librarian Research Grants (FLRG). Item 23.