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James Baldwin grew disillusioned by the failure of the civil rights movement to force America to confront its lies about race. What can we learn from his struggle in our own moment?
Named one of the best books of the year by Time, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune • Winner of the Stowe Prize • Shortlisted for the Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice
“Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.”—James Baldwin
Begin Again is one of the great books on James Baldwin and a powerful reckoning with America’s ongoing failure to confront the lies it tells itself about race. Just as in Baldwin’s “after times,” argues Eddie S. Glaude Jr., when white Americans met the civil rights movement’s call for truth and justice with blind rage and the murders of movement leaders, so in our moment were the Obama presidency and the birth of Black Lives Matter answered with the ascendance of Trump and the violent resurgence of white nationalism.
In these brilliant and stirring pages, Glaude finds hope and guidance in Baldwin as he mixes biography—drawn partially from newly uncovered Baldwin interviews—with history, memoir, and poignant analysis of our current moment to reveal the painful cycle of Black resistance and white retrenchment. As Glaude bears witness to the difficult truth of racism’s continued grip on the national soul, Begin Again is a searing exploration of the tangled web of race, trauma, and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a new America.
With An Uncommon Faith Eddie S. Glaude Jr. makes explicit his pragmatic approach to the study of African American religion. He insists that scholars take seriously what he calls black religious attitudes, that is, enduring and deep-seated dispositions tied to a transformative ideal that compel individuals to be otherwise—no matter the risk. This claim emerges as Glaude puts forward a rather idiosyncratic view of what the phrase “African American religion” offers within the context of a critically pragmatic approach to writing African American religious history.
Ultimately, An Uncommon Faith reveals how pragmatism has shaped Glaude’s scholarship over the years, as well as his interpretation of black life in the United States. In the end, his analysis turns our attention to those “black souls” who engage in the arduous task of self-creation in a world that clings to the idea that white people matter more than others. It is a task, he argues, that requires an uncommon faith and deserves the close attention of scholars of African American religion.
America’s great promise of equality has always rung hollow in the ears of African Americans. But today the situation has grown even more dire. From the murders of black youth by the police, to the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, to the disaster visited upon poor and middle-class black families by the Great Recession, it is clear that black America faces an emergency—at the very moment the election of the first black president has prompted many to believe we’ve solved America’s race problem.
Democracy in Black is Eddie S. Glaude Jr.'s impassioned response. Part manifesto, part history, part memoir, it argues that we live in a country founded on a “value gap”—with white lives valued more than others—that still distorts our politics today. Whether discussing why all Americans have racial habits that reinforce inequality, why black politics based on the civil-rights era have reached a dead end, or why only remaking democracy from the ground up can bring real change, Glaude crystallizes the untenable position of black America--and offers thoughts on a better way forward. Forceful in ideas and unsettling in its candor, Democracy In Black is a landmark book on race in America, one that promises to spark wide discussion as we move toward the end of our first black presidency.
In this Very Short Introduction, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. explores the history and circumstances of African American religion through three examples: conjure, African American Christianity, and African American Islam. He argues that the phrase "African American religion" is meaningful only insofar as it describes how through religion, African Americans have responded to oppressive conditions including slavery, Jim Crow apartheid, and the pervasive and institutionalized discrimination that exists today. This bold claim frames his interpretation of the historical record of the wide diversity of religious experiences in the African American community. He rejects the common tendency to racialize African American religious experiences as an inherent proclivity towards religiousness and instead focuses on how religious communities and experiences have developed in the African American community and the context in which these developments took place.
About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
According to Glaude, Dewey’s pragmatism, when attentive to the darker dimensions of life—or what we often speak of as the blues—can address many of the conceptual problems that plague contemporary African American discourse. How blacks think about themselves, how they imagine their own history, and how they conceive of their own actions can be rendered in ways that escape bad ways of thinking that assume a tendentious political unity among African Americans simply because they are black. Drawing deeply on black religious thought and literature, In a Shade of Blue seeks to dislodge such crude and simplistic thinking and replace it with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for black life in all its variety and intricacy. Glaude argues that only when black political leaders acknowledge such complexity can the real-life sufferings of many African Americans be remedied, an argument echoed in the recent rhetoric and optimism of the Barack Obama presidential campaign.
In a Shade of Blue is a remarkable work of political commentary and to follow its trajectory is to learn how African Americans arrived at this critical moment in their cultural and political history and to envision where they might head in the twenty-first century.
“Eddie Glaude is the towering public intellectual of his generation.”—Cornel West
“Eddie Glaude is poised to become the leading intellectual voice of our generation, raising questions that make us reexamine the assumptions we hold by expanding our inventory of ideas.”—Tavis Smiley