Black Bodies, White Gazes – George Yancy

black bodies white gazesUnfortunately, racism isn’t ‘over’ in America. We aren’t there yet. Everyone who has ever occupied, loved, feared or resented a human being housed in a black body should read Yancy’s frank, compelling phenomenology of race. This is a stunning example of the potential of contemporary philosophy. (Anita Allen, University of Pennsylvania)

If you think you know everything there is to know about racism, think again. Geoge Yancy deftly and acutely―even painfully―unpacks the multiple layers of meaning that exist in interracial living. This is an important book, and the very writing of it is testament to the fact that Yancy has not forsaken his hope for a more inclusive community, even in a post-enslavement culture. (Linda Martin Alcoff, professor of philosophy, political science, and women’s studies, Syracuse University)

With Black Bodies, White Gazes, philosopher George Yancy fills an enormous void in our understanding of the lived-experience of embodiment for black subjects in Eurocentric societies. In his phenomenological archaeology of this nearly uncharted territory-the region of the black body as the mediation for consciousness and an epidermalized world-Yancy guides us through the daily construction of whiteness and racial privilege in a fashion no white thinker can achieve, reminding us of Mircea Eliade’s insight that “. . . he who reveals to us the meaning of our mysterious inner pilgrimage must be a stranger of another belief and another race.” This is philosophy born of struggle, written in America’s existential trenches, and should be read and discussed by all.” (Charles Johnson, Endowed Professor of English, University of Washington; author of Middle Passage)

An important work in the field of racial studies. Yancy’s book will allow for and support important classroom interaction. Highly recommended. (CHOICE, June 2009)

George Yancy, in his remarkable book Black Bodies, White Gazes, provides an exemplar extraordinaire of what is possible when one makes the case for how and why social systems remain so fixed in our imagination. His book is not just a primer for good writing that names the mechanisms of race’s persistence on our collective imaginations, but also a powerful example of how body-centered writing complicates our very conception of race in America. As a White reader, I found myself both convinced of Yancy’s claims while also energized to renew my dedication toward challenging the ways whiteness works within and through my own gaze. (Review Of Communication, July 2009)

This courageous and brilliant book by George Yancy is the most philosophically sophisticated treatment we have of the most visceral issue in America and modernity: the black body within the changing context of whiteness. Don’t miss it! (Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary)

George Yancy’s tools are as varied as his subject: phenomenology and existentialism, literature and current events, calm analysis and charged classroom illustrations. Bringing together the insights of numerous thinkers―Douglass and DuBois, Husserl and Sartre, Toni Morrison and Frantz Fanon―Yancy attempts to unpack, in turn, the white gaze and how it denigrates the black body. (Radical Philosophy, July 2009)

Deconstructing the white gaze and demonstrating how it functions in the context of daily lives of blacks in the United States, Yancy reveals how the power of the white gaze is implicated in the continued oppression of blacks. He has produced a text that speaks to the need to transcend racial boundaries in order to transform the US into a fully democratic society. Black Bodies, White Gazes is academically rigorous, elegantly written, and theoretically sophisticated, and Yancy is to be commended for this examination of discursive practices of whiteness in everyday life. (Melus, Winter 2009).

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