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Lovable Racists, Magical Negroes, and White Messiahs

In this incredibly timely book, David Ikard dismantles popular white supremacist tropes, which effectively devalue black life and trivialize black oppression. Lovable Racists, Magical Negroes, and White Messiahs investigates the tenacity and cultural capital of white redemption narratives in literature and popular media from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to The Help.

In the book, Ikard explodes the fiction of a postracial society while awakening us to the sobering reality that we must continue to fight for racial equality or risk losing the hard-fought gains of the Civil Rights movement. Through his close reading of novels, films, journalism, and political campaigns, he analyzes willful white blindness and attendant master narratives of white redemption—arguing powerfully that he who controls the master narrative controls the perception of reality. The book sounds the alarm about seemingly innocuous tropes of white redemption that abound in our society and generate the notion that blacks are perpetually indebted to whites for liberating, civilizing, and enlightening them. In Lovable Racists, Magical Negroes, and White Messiahs, Ikard expertly and unflinchingly gives us a necessary critical historical intervention.

160 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2017

Black Studies

Culture Studies

History: American History

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature

Sociology: Race, Ethnic, and Minority Relations


“Ikard’s book is creative and interventive. With quite a bit of ease, he distills for the reader the ways of whiteness—to conjure tropes in the service of black inferiority and white superiority. For this journey, Ikard chooses the literary and everyday life as avenues through which we can best explore the pitfalls of the American landscape. His dealings with texts, in productive and rigorous ways, allow the reader to enter the worlds of literature and to gain richer knowledge of the ways we are ideologically manipulated by historic trends and tropes.”

Jeffrey Q. McCune, Jr., Washington University in St. Louis

“Ikard delivers a blunt account of white supremacy in American culture, and a searing indictment of those who help to prop racism up. . . . The book is both timely and necessary, serving as an essential wake-up call to all white Americans who are not actively engaged in combating racism.”

Foreword Reviews

Table of Contents

Foreword by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting
Chapter 1 Good Slave Masters Don’t Exist: Lovable Racists and the Crisis of Authorship in Twelve Years a Slave
Chapter 2 Constituting the Crime: White Innocence as an Apparatus of Oppression
Chapter 3 “We Have More to Fear than Racism that Announces Itself”: Distraction as a Strategy to Oppress
Chapter 4 “Only Tired I Was, Was Tired of Giving In”: Rosa Parks, Magical Negroes, and the Whitewashing of Black Struggle
Chapter 5 Santa Claus Is White and Jesus Is Too: Era(c)ing White Myths for the Health and Well-Being of Our Children

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