(1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race: A Review and Reflection

(1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race: A Review and Reflection

Andrew Joseph Pegoda, A.B.D.

Andrew Joseph Pegoda
Department of History
University of Houston, Houston, Texas

Yaba Blay and Noelle Théard (dir. of photography), (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race (Philadelphia: BLACKprint Press, 2013)

Yaba Blay’s (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race (2014) is a beautiful, first-hand look at the true complexities surrounding the ways in which societies and peoples racialize one another and the ways in which these are institutionalized. Due to an ambiguous and vastly tangled web of psychological, historical, and countless other reasons, everyday life tends to be highly racialized.

The United States was built on a foundation of “White” being good and “Black” being bad. Of “White” meaning liberty and freedom and “Black” meaning enslavement. These assumptions and corresponding racism are so interwoven into every aspect of society (similar to a cake – the sugar, for example, is everywhere in the cake but not at all directly detectable) that they go largely unnoticed and unquestioned…

…These essays also show a rare sense of raw honesty, so to speak. Some of the writers, for example, discuss how they used society’s stereotypes or expectations of what White or Black meant to the exclusion of others. Essays strongly convey why and how people have a fear of Blackness, as some respond to someone saying “I’m Black” with “no, you’re not Black,” and essays also show how complicated manifestations of Whiteness and White Privilege really are. Some of the accounts explain how “race” changes according to how people fixes their hair, what country they are in, or by who they are specifically around at a given moment…

…The personal accounts answer much more than what it means to be Black. Indeed, the individuals in this book show how unsatisfactory the term Black really is. In the United States, all too often we consider in a highly subjective process anyone with skin of a certain hue to be an African American. This pattern of thinking is far too simple, and it is inaccurate…

…Scholars are sometimes (inappropriately) criticized for being activist at the same time they are scholars. More and more often it is accepted and embraced they not only can we be both but that we should be both: that being passionate about what we write about makes for better scholarship. Blay’s work is also an excellent example of how one can be both a scholar and an activists at the same time and be successful at both…

Read the entire review here.

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