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"The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the colour-line", W.E.B. du Bois wrote in 1903, and his words have proven sadly prophetic. As we enter the 21st century, the problem remains - and yet it, and the line that defies it, have shifted in subtle but significant ways. This brief book speaks powerfully to the question of how the circumstances of race and racism have changed in our time - and how these changes will affect our future. Foremost among the book's concerns are the contradictions and incoherence of a system that idealizes black celebrities in politics, popular culture and sports even as it diminishes the average African-American citizen. The world of the assembly line, boxer Jack Johnson's career and "The Birth of a Nation" come under Holt's scrutiny as he relates the malign progress of race and racism to the loss of industrial jobs and the rise of our modern consumer society. Understanding race as ideology, he describes the processes of consumerism and commodification that have transformed, but not necessarily improved, the place of black citizens in our society. As disturbing as it is enlightening, this work reveals the radical nature of change as it relates to race and its cultural phenomena. It offers conceptual tools and a new way to think and talk about racism as social reality.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674008243
ISBN-10: 0674008243
Format: Paperback
(190mm x 127mm x 12mm)
Pages: 160
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 2-Apr-2002
Country of Publication: United States


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Author Biography - Thomas C. Holt

Thomas C. Holt is Professor of History at the University of Chicago and the author of The Problem of Freedom.

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