Here is the superb second edition of the annual anthology devoted to the best nonfiction writing by African American authors—provocative works from an unprecedented and unforgettable year when truth was stranger (and more inspiring) than fiction.
The galvanizing election of Barack Obama was on the minds—and the pages—of authors everywhere. Best African American Essays 2010 features the insights of writers from Juan Williams to Kelefa Sanneh and even Obama himself (his seminal speech on race is included here in its entirety). Ta-Nehisi Coates, in The Nation, proclaims that the president has "redefined blackness for white America," while Adolph Reed, Jr., in The Progressive, calls him a "vacuous opportunist" and Colson Whitehead, in The New York Times, lightheartedly revels in the election of "someone who looked like me . . . slim." The First Lady is considered, too, as Lauren Collins, in The New Yorker, assesses the radical quality of Michelle Obama's very normalcy.
But Best African American Essays 2010 goes beyond the Obamas with brilliant pieces from such writers as Hua Hsu, who declares the end of white America in "a new cultural mainstream which prizes diversity above all else"; Henry Louis Gates, who researches his family tree, adding to the "young discipline" that is African American history; and Jelani Cobb, who dares to defend George W. Bush. There are thoughtful and heartfelt tributes to living legends, including Bill Cosby (and an analysis of his famous "pound cake" speech, which promoted black responsibility, empowerment, and self-esteem), and remembrances of those who have passed, including Miriam Makeba, Isaac Hayes, Eartha Kitt, and Michael Jackson.
Selected by guest editor Randall Kennedy, a leading intellectual and legal scholar, the wide-ranging pieces in Best African American Essays 2010 comprise a thrilling collection that anyone who wishes to understand the meaning of the new America must own.
About the Author
Gerald Early is the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters, professor of English and of African and Afro-American Studies, and director of the Center for Humanities at Washington University. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is the editor of several volumes, including This Is Where I Came In: Black America in the 1960s; The Sammy Davis Jr. Reader; Body Language: Writers on Sport; Speech and Power; Lure and Loathing: Essays on Race, Identity, and the Ambivalence of Assimilation; and My Soul's High Song: The Collected Works of Countee Cullen, as well as the author of The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, which won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism; One Nation Under a Groove: Motown and American Culture; Daughters: On Family and Fatherhood; and Tuxedo Junction.
Randall Kennedy is Professor at Harvard Law School and the editor of "Reconstruction" magazine.