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Lovable Racists, Magical Negroes, and White Messiahs$
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David Ikard

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226492469

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226492773.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Lovable Racists, Magical Negroes, and White Messiahs

David Ikard

University of Chicago Press

The introduction lays out the larger argument of the book which includes defining the tropes lovable racists, white messiahs, and magical negroes. The chief argument is that these tropes have long pervaded our society, reinforcing white supremacist notions of self-determination, inclusivity, nationalism, freedom, equality, and fairness. Most profoundly, these tropes encourage even blacks and people of color to not only tolerate blatant racist behavior by whites but, in many cases, to misread such behavior as laudatory. This process of misreading is the result of blacks and people color having set the bar so low for expectations of white humanity; meaning that minimal acts of white civility and decency are experienced as magnanimous or even heroic. Because whites are routinely socially insulated from having to confront their white privilege and power (a phenomenon that is compounded by the unconscious complicity of blacks and people of color), they routinely experience their white oppression and privilege as natural and benign.

Keywords:   Toni Morrison, Edward Said, Black Lives Matter, James Baldwin, lovable racists, magical negroes, white messiahs, hip hop, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander

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