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“Uncle Tom” is the most piercing epithet blacks can hurl at one another. It marks targets as race traitors, and that painful stain is often permanent. Much more than a slur, Uncle Tom is a vital component of a system of social norms in the black community that deters treachery. In this book, Brando Simeo Starkey provocatively argues that blacks must police racial loyalty and that those successfully prosecuted must be punished with the label Uncle Tom. This book shadows Uncle Tom throughout history to understand how these norms were constructed, disseminated, applied, and enforced. Why were Martin Luther King Jr., Marcus Garvey, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and others accused of racial betrayal? In Defense of Uncle Tom answers this and other questions and insists that Uncle Tom is too valuable to discard. Because it deters treachery, this epithet helps build black solidarity, a golden tool in promoting racial progress.Read more
- Reveals why famous black figures like Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr, Jackie Robinson, W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Muhammad Ali, Colin Powell and others were called an Uncle Tom
- Tells readers why Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should be called an Uncle Tom
- Reveals why Marcus Garvey, posthumously known as a black cultural hero, was guilty of racial treachery
Reviews & endorsements
"In Defense of Uncle Tom is a bracing, brilliant and provocative analysis of how black folk have identified race traitors and enforced healthy social norms to protect ourselves. Starkey takes no prisoners as he names and names and argues forcefully for us to continue the art of policing black racial loyalty - while skillfully dividing the wheat of legitimate charges of racial disloyalty from the chaff of weaker or false claims. In Defense of Uncle Tom expertly guides us through the explosive terrain and polluted waters of black racial loyalty."
Michael Eric DysonSee more reviews
"Meticulously researched, passionately argued, In Defense of Uncle Tom is an ambitious book by an ambitious young writer who has the chops and intellect to be an important voice for his generation."
"With this controversial study of the epithet 'Uncle Tom' from the late 19th century to today, Brando Simeo Starkey emerges as an important public intellectual whose ideas on race must be reckoned with. … This deeply researched historical study ties our nation’s shameful history of race discrimination to struggles within the African American community on how to respond to discrimination and violence. … Starkey presents a polemical argument for the continued need for racial solidarity as our nation moves towards the dream of equality. … This readable book will teach you a lot of American history and about a fascinating and much-ignored narrative in American history. You … must read this book because everyone who thinks about race is going to be talking about it real soon."
Alfred L. Brophy, Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"In a thorough and historically grounded treatment of the subject, Sharkey chronicles the rise and changing significance of the epithet 'Uncle Tom', and insightfully explains its vital social function as punishment for betrayal and servility, and, while noting its many dangers and abuses, persuasively defends the continuing usefulness of this stinging condemnation. Because of its subtle, circumspect, and level-headed treatment of practical principles for group unity, In Defense of Uncle Tom has lessons for any disadvantaged group seeking a full measure of justice."
Tommie Shelby, author of We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity
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- Date Published: January 2015
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107668348
- length: 376 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 153 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.51kg
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
1. Solidarity, social norms, and Uncle Tom
2. Uncle Tom:
3. The unwitting pioneers
4. Uncle Tom:
5. No man was safe
6. Uncle Tom today:
7. So what about Clarence?
8. The curious case of Uncle Tom
9. What now, Uncle Tom?
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