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Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness in America

Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness in America

by Michael Eric Dyson


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One of Kirkus Review's Best Books About Being Black in America | On Detroit Free Press' Holiday Book Gift List

"Dyson’s work clearly comes from a deep well of love—for his country, for his people and for the intellectual and cultural figures he admires." —New York Times

"Entertaining Race is a splendid way to spend quality time reading one of the most remarkable thinkers in America today."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi

"To read Entertaining Race is to encounter the life-long vocation of a teacher who preaches, a preacher who teaches and an activist who cannot rest until all are set free."
Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock

For more than thirty years, Michael Eric Dyson has played a prominent role in the nation as a public intellectual, university professor, cultural critic, social activist and ordained Baptist minister. He has presented a rich and resourceful set of ideas about American history and culture. Now for the first time he brings together the various components of his multihued identity and eclectic pursuits.

Entertaining Race is a testament to Dyson’s consistent celebration of the outsized impact of African American culture and politics on this country. Black people were forced to entertain white people in slavery, have been forced to entertain the idea of race from the start, and must find entertaining ways to make race an object of national conversation. Dyson’s career embodies these and other ways of performing Blackness, and in these pages, ranging from 1991 to the present, he entertains race with his pen, voice and body, and occasionally, alongside luminaries like Cornel West, David Blight, Ibram X. Kendi, Master P, MC Lyte, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alicia Garza, John McWhorter, and Jordan Peterson.

Most of this work will be new to readers, a fresh light for many of his long-time fans and an inspiring introduction for newcomers. Entertaining Race offers a compelling vision from the mind and heart of one of America’s most important and enduring voices.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250135971
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/02/2021
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 52,663
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON—Distinguished University Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies, College of Arts & Science, and of Ethics and Society, Divinity School, and NEH Centennial Chair at Vanderbilt University—is one of America’s premier public intellectuals and the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers including Tears We Cannot Stop, What Truth Sounds Like, JAY-Z, and Long Time Coming. A winner of the 2018 nonfiction Southern Book Prize, Dr. Dyson is also a recipient of two NAACP Image awards and the 2020 Langston Hughes Festival Medallion. Former president Barack Obama has noted: “Everybody who speaks after Michael Eric Dyson pales in comparison.”

Table of Contents



I Love Music

On the Concert Stage

1. The King of Pop and the Queen of Everything
2. “One Love,” Two Brothers, Three Verses
3. Mission Accomplished
4. Hello Like Before
5. The Church of Aretha Franklin

Do You See What I See?

In the Photograph

6. August March
7. Photobombing Mandela
8. Of Mic and Lens

Act Like You Know

In the Theatre

9. King at Midnight
10. The Blues of August Wilson


On the Silver Screen

11. Trump L’oeil of Race
12. Bigelow’s General Method


Holy Hallways

In Divinity School

13. What’s Derrida Got to Do With Jesus?
14. The Prophetic Passions of a Black Radical Evangelical

Do You Hear What I Hear?

God in the Public Square

15. Abraham, Isaac, and Us (and Hagar and Ishmael and Trayvon and Michael Brown, Too)
16. George Floyd and the Politics of Automortology
17. Black Love in a Time of Coronavirus

I Love to Tell the Story

In the Pulpit

18. What Have I Left?
19. Make Room for God
20. Hard Out Here for a P.I.M.P.

Eulogizing Ancestors

In the Grieving Sanctuary

21. If Karl Marx Was a Brother
22. A Key, A Song, A Bridge
23. Long Live the Queen
24. A Man for All Seasons
25. When She


Balling Out

In the Arena

26. Pound for Pound
27. He the Best
28. Currying Favor

To Live Up to their Own Constitution

In Politics

29. The Root of Jesse
31. When Robin Becomes Batman

Cooler Than the Other Side of the Pillow

In Black Masculine Style

32. Brother, Can You Spare a Nod?
33. Behind the Mask
34. Save the Babies


Class Notes

At the Lectern

35. Contesting Racial Amnesia
36. Dreams of the Drum
37. Civil Rights at this Critical Juncture

Think About It

In the Study

38. More Than Academic
39. The Life of the Black Mind in the Age of Digital Reproduction



In Conversation with the Younger Generation

40. In Baldwin’s Shadow
41. Race, Racism, Racists, Antiracists
42. We Matter, We Care

Battling Brains

On the Debate Stage

43. It Ain’t the Demos, It’s the Demon
44. Mean Mad White Man and Pugnacious Black Preacher?
45. What’s Love Got to Do with It?


The Right Address

Speeches on the Public Stage

46. Some of Us Are in First Class But the Plane is in Trouble
47. A Shovel or a Rope?
48. Like Hemingway Being Mugged by Morrison

The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble

Protest Orations

49. When That Flag Goes Down America Comes Up
50. Golgotha in Memphis

Read the Papers!

Opinion Pages

51. King’s Dream, Rihanna’s Demand
52. Model Minorities?

Graduated Tax

On the Commencement Stage

53. The Weltanschauung of Lil’ Wayne, or What Can You Do with a Harvard Degree?
54. How We Become Who We Are
55. Is America Still a Dream?



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