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Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal by…
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Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal (2008)

by Randall Kennedy

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A good book. I rather wish the historical information had been fleshed out a bit more, it was an excellent section and made for interesting reading. The end felt a little weak. It's offers interesting insights on some of the issues within the Black community to an outsider like me.

Oh, and I love footnotes. Absolutely love footnotes. So thumbs up there.
  JonathanGorman | Oct 31, 2009 |
A thoughtful discussion, somewhere between a law journal article and a book-length essay, that examines what it means to speak of an African-American 'selling out' and urges that the criticism be leveled very rarely. The author handles a sensitive subject with clarity and insight. I found chapters four and five the most compelling. Chapter Four defends Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas against the charge of selling out. Basing his argument on a close reading of several of Justice Thomas' opinions, Kennedy makes the case that Thomas cannot fairly be described as selling out because, whatever the impact of his ideology or judicial decisions, Thomas is working for an outcome he genuinely believes will benefit black Americans. Chapter five heads in a totally different direction, offering a literary and historical review of 'passing'. The book has extensive endnotes and also copious footnotes that allow the main thread of the essay to unfold without losing illuminating or amusing tangents. ( )
  bezoar44 | Jul 1, 2008 |
Kennedy examines the black American concept of the 'sellout' and how this is used to marginalise successful black Americans within the black community.
  Fledgist | Feb 4, 2008 |
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This book is dedicated to
Judge Henry Harold Kennedy, Jr.
Exemplary father, brother, son, husband, and friend
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375425438, Hardcover)

In the wake of his controversial national best-seller, Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, Randall Kennedy grapples brilliantly and judiciously with another stigma of our racial discourse: "selling out," or racial betrayal, which is a subject of much anxiety and acrimony in Black America. He atomizes the vicissitudes of the term and shows how its usage bedevils blacks and whites, while elucidating the effects it has on individuals and on our society as a whole.

Kennedy begins his exploration of selling out with a cogent, historical definition of the "black" community, accounting precisely for who is considered black and who is not. He looks at the ways in which prominent members of that community--Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Barack Obama, among others--have been stigmatized as sellouts. He outlines the history of the suspicion of racial betrayal among blacks, and he shows how current fears of selling out are expressed in thought and practice. He offers a rigorous and bracing case study of the quintessential "sellout"--Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, perhaps the most vilified black public official in American history. And he gives is a first-person reckoning of how he himself has dealt with accusations of having sold out at Harvard, especially after the publication of Nigger.

Lucidly and powerfully articulated, Sellout is essential to any discussion of the troubled history of race in America.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:27 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Kennedy grapples with a stigmatized phrase: "selling out," or racial betrayal, a subject of much anxiety and acrimony in Black America. He atomizes the changing meanings of the term and shows how its usage bedevils blacks and whites. He begins his exploration with a historical definition of the "black" community, accounting for who is considered black and who is not. He looks at the ways in which prominent members of that community--Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Barack Obama, among others--have been stigmatized as sellouts. He outlines the history of the suspicion of racial betrayal among blacks, shows how current fears of selling out are expressed in thought and practice, and offers a case study of the quintessential "sellout"--Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, perhaps the most vilified black public official in American history.--From publisher description.… (more)

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