The Black Box: Writing the Race

Books on Tape. Mar. 2024. 7:07 hrs. ISBN 9780593829127. Audio. $76. HIST
Renowned historian and PBS host of PBS’s Finding Your Roots, Gates (The Black Church) writes this account of his search for a fresh conception of Black identity that goes beyond checking off “the Black box” on applications. Award-winning narrator Dominic Hoffman provides a conversational yet thoughtful presentation of Gates’s work. Drawing on his lectures to Harvard undergraduates about literary greats W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison, Gates shows how Black writers have defined and redefined the Black community for generations, contributed to the civil rights movement, and continued to influence ongoing efforts to achieve more artistic and political freedom. In discussing what it means to navigate society with one label or another, Gates also envisions the world his biracial granddaughter will experience. Noting that there are 47 million Black people in the U.S., and thus 47 million ways to be Black, he argues that no single box can capture the layers of culture, history, and race within Black society.
VERDICT Listeners who seek to engage in today’s debates about school curricula, inclusive perspectives on U.S. history, and forming a shared national culture will find this powerfully argued and narrated work an invaluable resource.
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