Blinded by the Whites

Blinded by the Whites

Why Race Still Matters in 21st-Century America
David H. Ikard
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/28/2013
ISBN: 978-0-253-01103-9
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The election of Barack Obama gave political currency to the (white) idea that Americans now live in a post-racial society. But the persistence of racial profiling, economic inequality between blacks and whites, disproportionate numbers of black prisoners, and disparities in health and access to healthcare suggest there is more to the story. David H. Ikard addresses these issues in an effort to give voice to the challenges faced by most African Americans and to make legible the shifting discourse of white supremacist ideology—including post-racialism and colorblind politics—that frustrates black self-determination, agency, and empowerment in the 21st century. Ikard tackles these concerns from various perspectives, chief among them black feminism. He argues that all oppressions (of race, gender, class, sexual orientation) intersect and must be confronted to upset the status quo.

Author Bio

David H. Ikard is Professor in the Department of English at the University of Miami and author of Breaking the Silence: Toward a Black Male Feminist Criticism and (with Martell Lee Teasley) Nation of Cowards: Black Activism in Barack Obama's Post-Racial America (IUP, 2012). His blog "Nation of Cowards" ( takes up contemporary racial topics and engages a wider intellectual and activist community.


“The election of Barack Obama gave political currency to the (white) idea that Americans now live in a post-racial society. This other side of the story gives voice to the challenges still faced by most African Americans.”

“David Ikard is among our sharpest and most exciting thinkers on race, culture and politics and this collection features some of his most incisive work. Adroit in its analysis, elegant in its prose, consider Blinded by the Whites required reading.”
 — William Jelani Cobb, author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama & the Paradox of Progress

“What immediately strikes you about Blinded by the Whites is the sheer range of texts that David Ikard engages, including himself—this is the work of a mature, theoretically sophisticated, interdisciplinary scholar. Yet Ikard manages to always 'make it plain,' to shout out the neighborhood preacher, as if he was literally breaking it down for the son and daughter that serve as the inspirations for this important intervention.”
 — Mark Anthony Neal, author of Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities

“David Ikard provides an astute account of the ways that racism and discrimination continue to shape American culture and identity. In succinct prose he boldly critiques insidious expressions of white supremacy and deftly identifies the persistent hazards of black complicity. Ikard deploys Black feminist theory to analyze a range of texts from Edward P. Jones’s critically acclaimed novel, The Known World to Lee Daniels’s controversial film, Precious. His sobering examination of Trayvon Martin’s brutal murder and his unflinchingly candid personal narratives underscores the importance of black male feminist theorizing. Ikard’s dazzling close readings disrupt conventional ideas about these landmark texts and cultural moments in ways that invigorate African American literary and cultural studies.”
 — Lisa B. Thompson, author of Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class

“Ikard's incorporation of autobiographical moments . . . to show the intersections of the personal and the political, . . . his candid discussions of his father's sexual abuse of a young female relative, and the various teachable moments he has had with his own daughter and son on a range of issues related to being black in America are quite profound as concrete evidence to support his overall argument [that] white supremacist ideology . . . continues to inform African American life.”
 — Alice Deck, University of Illinois

“Sadly, the issues here are as old as race in America, though Ikard's survey of their contemporary forms is instructive. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Hidden In Plain Sight: What Does Black Empowerment in the Twenty-First Century Look Like?
1. White Supremacy Under Fire: The Unrewarded Perspective in Edward P. Jones’s The Known World
2. Easier Said than Done: Making Black Feminism Transformative for Black Men
3. All Joking Aside: Black Men, Sexual Assault, and Displaced Racial Angst in Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle
4. Boys to Men: Getting Personal about Black Manhood, Sexuality, and Empowerment
5. Rejecting Goldilocks: The Crisis of Normative White Beauty for Black Girls
6. "Stop Making the Rest of Us Look Bad": How Class Matters in the Attacks against the Movie Precious
Epilogue: So What Does It All Mean?