A Dreadful Deceit

A Dreadful Deceit

The Myth of Race From the Colonial Era to Obama's America

Book - 2013
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Baker & Taylor
"In A Dreadful Deceit, award-winning social historian Jacqueline Jones traces the lives of six African Americans from the colonial era to the late 20th century, using their stories to illustrate the complex ways in which racial ideologies in this countryhave changed since the first Africans arrived on the nation's shores hundreds of years ago. The very idea of "blackness," she shows, has changed fundamentally over this period. For Antonio, an enslaved Angolan man tortured to death by his owner in 1650s Maryland, being black meant being defined purely in terms of physical characteristics, without regard to his actual ethnicity (his Angolan identity) and without association with any countrymen, confederates, or co-religionists who might support him. The label made Antonio uniquely vulnerable, and indeed gained traction precisely because it defined, rationalized, and exploited that vulnerability. It is one of the terrible ironies of history that later generations of African Americans developed a shared identity around this mythologized label, yet it is also true that each generation has also had to confront its limits and limitations"--

Perseus Publishing
In 1656, a Maryland planter tortured and killed an enslaved man named Antonio, an Angolan who refused to work in the fields. Three hundred years later, Simon P. Owens battled soul-deadening technologies as well as the fiction of race” that divided him from his co-workers in a Detroit auto-assembly plant. Separated by time and space, Antonio and Owens nevertheless shared a distinct kind of political vulnerability; they lacked rights and opportunities in societies that accorded marked privileges to people labeled white.”

An American creation myth posits that these two black men were the victims of racial” discrimination, a primal prejudice that the United States has haltingly but gradually repudiated over the course of many generations. InA Dreadful Deceit, award-winning historian Jacqueline Jones traces the lives of Antonio, Owens, and four other African Americans to illustrate the strange history of race” in America. In truth, Jones shows, race does not exist, and the very factors that we think of as determining it a person’s heritage or skin colorare mere pretexts for the brutalization of powerless people by the powerful. Jones shows that for decades, southern planters did not even bother to justify slavery by invoking the concept of race; only in the late eighteenth century did whites begin to rationalize the exploitation and marginalization of blacks through notions of racial” difference. Indeed, race amounted to a political strategy calculated to defend overt forms of discrimination, as revealed in the stories of Boston King, a fugitive in Revolutionary South Carolina; Elleanor Eldridge, a savvy but ill-starred businesswoman in antebellum Providence, Rhode Island; Richard W. White, a Union veteran and Republican politician in post-Civil War Savannah; and William Holtzclaw, founder of an industrial school for blacks in Mississippi, where many whites opposed black schooling of any kind. These stories expose the fluid, contingent, and contradictory idea of race, and the disastrous effects it has had, both in the past and in our own supposedly post-racial society.

Expansive, visionary, and provocative, A Dreadful Deceit explodes the pernicious fiction that has shaped four centuries of American history.

& Taylor

A prize-winning historian presents the stories of six different African Americans over three centuries to illuminate the long-standing issues of race and economic injustice that continue to cause division and tension in the modern United States.
Presents the stories of six different African Americans over three centuries to illuminate the long-standing issues of race and economic injustice that continue to cause division and tension in the modern United States.

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, c2013
ISBN: 9780465036707
Branch Call Number: 305.80097 JON
Characteristics: xvii, 381 p. ;,25 cm.


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