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Art, culture and ethics in black and white

More than a century after its release in 1915, D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation remains one of the most controversial films in cinema history. Drawing together a range of scholars and practitioners, this volume reveals a continued fascination in this film as a gauge of American racism and a milestone of early cinema that allows us to recognise the complex relationship between art, culture and ethics. Through stimulating analyses and new research on its reception, both on its release and one hundred years later, this book offers fresh, engaging perspectives on Birth. Topics include the presence of African American actors in the film, the craft of Griffith’s racist dialectics, public reception of the film in the state of Virginia and re-reading promotion of the film as ‘fake news’. It traces Birth’s legacies through historical and contemporary cinema and art, demonstrating that its significance has not diminished. Vivid relationships are drawn between the film and the art of Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley. Traditions are found both upheld and challenged in film works by Oscar Micheaux, Matthew McDaniel, DJ Spooky, Nate Parker and Quentin Tarantino. In the context of ongoing struggles over racial inequities in the twenty-first century, with white supremacist activity very much a part of the contemporary world, this book thus offers relevant and productive routes into the study of Griffith’s film.

Abstract only
Andra Gillespie

Chapter 1 outlines the various constraints on Obama – the separation of powers/constitutional constraints, the size and scope of the federal government bureaucracy, the ‘opportunity costs’ of presidential actions/initiatives and public opinion. A theory is advanced with three considerations that President Obama had to take into account as he crafted his agenda. Those insights will help to frame the discussion of the rest of the book and help to put the Obama record— and black voter reaction to that record— into context. It introduces a normative theory of race and presidential representation and synthesises the presidential power and ‘deracialisation literatures’ to make the claim that presidents are structurally constrained in their ability to address a host of issues of concern to blacks. As a result, they tend to address issues of race symbolically. Barack Obama, as the first black president and a black politician who rose to power by using deracialisation, or a more race-neutral campaign strategy, will be particularly susceptible to resorting to more symbolic means of racial representation.

This theory is then tested by examining both the racially substantive policies that have been implemented by the Obama Administration and by charting key indicators of black well-being relative to other racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

in Race and the Obama Administration
Author:

With race as a central theme, this book presents racial stratification as the underlying system which accounts for the difference in outcomes of Whites and Blacks in the labour market. Critical race theory (CRT) is employed to discuss the operation, research, maintenance and impact of racial stratification. The power of this book is the innovative use of a stratification framework to expose the pervasiveness of racial inequality in the labour market. It teaches readers how to use CRT to investigate the racial hierarchy and it provides a replicable framework to identify the racial order based on insight from the Irish case. There is a four-stage framework in the book which helps readers understand how migrants navigate the labour market from the point of migration to labour participation. The book also highlights minority agency and how migrants respond to their marginality. The examples of how social acceptance can be applied in managing difference in the workplace are an added bonus for those interested in diversity and inclusion. This book is the first of its kind in Ireland and across Europe to present inequality, racism and discrimination in the labour market from a racial stratification perspective. While this book is based on Irish data, the CRT theoretical approach, as well as its insight into migrant perspectives, poses a strong appeal to scholars of sociology, social justice, politics, intercultural communication and economics with interest in race and ethnicity, critical whiteness and migration. It is a timely contribution to CRT which offers scholars a method to conduct empirical study of racial stratification across different countries bypassing the over-reliance on secondary data. It will also appeal to countries and scholars examining causal racism and how it shapes racial inequality.

Substance, symbols, and hope
Author:

The election of Barack Obama was a milestone in US history with tremendous symbolic importance for the black community. But was this symbolism backed up by substance? Did ordinary black people really benefit under the first black president?

This is the question that Andra Gillespie sets out to answer in Race and the Obama Administration. Using a variety of methodological techniques—from content analysis of executive orders to comparisons of key indicators, such as homeownership and employment rates under Clinton, Bush, and Obama— the book charts the progress of black causes and provides valuable perspective on the limitations of presidential power in addressing issues of racial inequality. Gillespie uses public opinion data to investigate the purported disconnect between Obama’s performance and his consistently high ratings among black voters, asking how far the symbolic power of the first black family in the White House was able to compensate for the compromises of political office.

Scholarly but accessible, Race and the Obama Administration will be of interest to students and lecturers in US politics and race studies, as well as to general readers who want to better understand the situation of the black community in the US today and the prospects for its improvement.

Open Access (free)
Laura Chrisman

-sensitive postmodern contexts, black intellectuals are still expected to speak for the entire race. Such demands for racial representation prove difficult to dismantle at the level of discourse because their roots lie in the structural conditions introduction 21/12/04 11:04 am Page 5 Introduction 5 of African-American access to public culture … as long as institutional racism curtails wider black access to cultural and political discourse, the part will continue to stand in for the whole, and, in fact, the high visibility of a few token figures will serve to disguise and

in Postcolonial contraventions
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My president was black. So what?
Andra Gillespie

more symbolic means of racial representation. I then test this theory by examining both the racially substantive policies that have been implemented by the Obama Administration and by charting key indicators of black well-​being relative to other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. I  organize this examination in parts. First, I  examine substantive politics. In Chapter 2, I present a general overview of Obama’s performance with respect to race and the state of racial inequality in America on a number of key indicators. Others, such as Michael Dawson, have

in Race and the Obama Administration
John McLeod

black vernacular culture – customized cars with tinted windows carrying local hoods in the back seats – do little to dislodge predominant paradigms of racialized representation. There is not much else to discover of black life in The Swimming-Pool Library other than these popular images of the black subcultural underworld that Will struggles to see past, just as Charles fails to establish an envisioning of Race, empire and The Swimming-Pool Library  69 black life under colonial patronage beyond the appropriative agency of emblematization and eroticization. As author

in Alan Hollinghurst
A timeline
Jenny Barrett

, Griffith’s whole career, or cinematic visions of the American Civil War. The development of the academic study of racial representation, particularly in the USA, owed much to scholars such as Thomas Cripps, Donald Bogle and Daniel Bernardi, and The Birth of a Nation often featured, at the very least, in the introductions of their monographs. The authors invariably tackled the dilemma of studying and

in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
Brunias’s ‘ladies’ of ambiguous race
Mia L. Bagneris

a Brunias picture, race, rather than being an indisputable fact to be discerned from a neatly organised chart or a truth to be empirically observed, is, quite literally, in the eye of the beholder. What does a white woman look like? Visuality and the crisis of racial representation To my knowledge, Kay Dian Kriz is the only other scholar thus far who has alluded – albeit tangentially – to this nuanced way of reading Brunias’s work.15 In her scholarship on Brunias’s mulatresses, Kriz also turns her attention to the scene-stealing woman in white from Linen Market

in Colouring the Caribbean
Bryce Lease

spectators on an equal footing with the characters Parcha and Dżina encounter. Amy Robinson organizes a theory of racial representation in relation to two oppositional positions of spectating. Robinson’s theory revolves around a central triangulation of passing, in which a ‘passer’ is allowed access into white society through her skin tone and the ‘dupe,’ a white person who misidentifies her skin color as a mimetic sign of racial identity. This interaction is formalized by the presence of an in-group witness who belongs to the same racial group as the passer. In Masłowska

in After ’89