One the Preeminent Voices on Race in AmericaBook Speaker
Randall Kennedy has “the whole panoply of black experience in America at his fingertips” (The New York Times). Kennedy's instant bestseller Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word sparked a firestorm of national debates sprawling across the pages of The New York Times, Newsweek, TIME, and, most importantly, the popular consciousness. Known for his fearlessness in tackling sensitive racial issues, Kennedy brings the divisive issues that plague black America to the forefront of mass culture. His latest book, The Persistence of the Color Line, deals with those divisive issues as they pertain to America's first black president.
In front of packed lecture halls, Kennedy showcases his wit and accessibility, while challenging audiences to confront their own racial prejudices and the prejudices embedded in society. Frank conversations include the ongoing linguistic and historical baggage of loaded words like "nigger" and "sellout," interracial intimacies and adoptions, and overt (and covert) racial lines. Kennedy is truly a must-see for anyone interested in the ongoing national conversation about race, identity and American life.
As one of America's premier scholar on race and ethnicity, Kennedy studied at Princeton, Oxford, and Yale. Following positions at the United States Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, he joined the faculty at Harvard Law School where he has since written for academic and popular journals, published several books, including Nigger and Sell-Out, and served on the editorial boards of American Prospect and The Nation.
The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency
Renowned for his well reasoned approach to the pitfalls and cliches of racial discourse, Randall Kennedy takes on the complex relationship between the first black president and his African American constituency. Kennedy tackles hot-button issues like the nature of racial opposition to Obama, whether Obama has any special responsibility to African Americans, the increasing irrelevance of traditional racial politics and the consequences thereof, black patriotism and its antithesis, the differences between Obama's presentation of himself to blacks and whites and the challenges posed by the dream of a post-racial society.
Eschewing the critical excesses of both the left and the right, Kennedy's talk offers an insightful view of Obama's triumphs, travails, strengths and weaknesses, as they pertain to the troubled history of race in America.
Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal
For a black person, few things are worse than being called a "sellout." It is a volatile term, loaded with the stigma of racial betrayal. "Sellout," the modern-day cousin to terms such as "Uncle Tom" and "Oreo," continues to dog many prominent blacks, from Oprah Winfrey to Barack Obama. In this extraordinary talk, Randall Kennedy tackles this highly charged issue head-on. Exploring the actions that trigger cries of "selling out," such as marrying a white person, acting and thinking "white," or living in a white neighborhood, he shows us the negative consequences of living under the specter of race anxiety, and offers original solutions to overcome the feelings of fear, anger, and mistrust that often surround talk of so-called race traitors. This sweeping lecture, impeccably argued and full of hope and reason, brings a much-needed clarity to the topic, while getting to the core of what it means to be black in America today.
Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word
In this lecture, Randall Kennedy focuses on key words in the ongoing conversation about American race relations. In the linguistic baggage that Kennedy unpacks are such words as "racism," "discrimination," and "diversity." At the core of the talk is the most notorious racial slur in the English language and the basis for his New York Times bestseller, Nigger.
The Race Line in American Life
Kennedy canvasses the many ways in which racial lines have been drawn overtly and, covertly, self- consciously and unconsciously. Many people claim that, with certain exceptions (such as affirmative action or racial profiling by law enforcement authorities), relatively little invidious discrimination impedes the forward progress of racial minorities. Kennedy examines that claim, considering the results of audits involving automobile transactions, employment applications, the receipt of tips by cab drivers, and the provision of medical care.
The Persistence of the Color Line
Renowned for his insightful, common-sense critiques of racial politics, Randall Kennedy gives us a shrewd and penetrating analysis of the complex relationship between the first black president and his African-American constituency. Kennedy tackles such hot-button issues as the nature of racial opposition to Obama; whether Obama has a singular responsibility to African Americans; the differences in Obama's presentation of himself to blacks and to whites; the challenges posed by the dream of a post-racial society; the increasing irrelevance of a certain kind of racial politics and its consequences; the complex symbolism of Obama's achievement and his own obfuscations and evasions regarding racial justice. Eschewing the critical excesses of both the left and the right, Kennedy offers an incisive view of Obama's triumphs and travails, his strengths and weaknesses, as they pertain to the troubled history of race in America.
Sell-Out: The Politics of Racial Betrayal
In this incisive and unflinching study, Randall Kennedy, author of Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, tackles another stigma of America's racial discourse:
"selling out." He explains the origins of the concept and shows how fear of this label has haunted prominent members of the black community-- including, most recently, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Barack Obama.
Sellout also contains a rigorously fair case study of America's quintessential racial "sellout" Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In the book's final section, Kennedy recounts how he himself has dealt with accusations of being a sellout after meeting fierce criticism at Harvard upon the publication of his book, Nigger.
Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word
It's "the nuclear bomb of racial epithets," a word that whites have employed to wound and degrade African Americans for three centuries. Paradoxically, among many black people it has become a term of affection and even empowerment. The word, of course, is nigger, and in this candid, lucidly argued book the distinguished legal scholar Randall Kennedy traces its origins, maps its multifarious connotations, and explores the controversies that rage around it. Should blacks be able to use nigger in ways forbidden to others? Should the law treat it as a provocation that reduces the culpability of those who respond to it violently? Should it cost a person his job, or a book like Huckleberry Finn its place on library shelves? With a range of reference that extends from the Jim Crow south to Chris Rock routines and the O. J. Simpson trial, Kennedy takes on not just a word, but our laws, attitudes, and culture with bracing courage and intelligence.
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