Black on White: Black Writers on what it Means to be White

Front Cover
David R. Roediger
Schocken Books, 1998 - Social Science - 353 pages
In this thought-provoking volume, David R. Roediger has brought together some of the most important black writers throughout history to explore the question: What does it really mean to be white in America?
From folktales and slave narratives to contemporary essays, poetry, and fiction, black writers have long been among America's keenest students of white consciousness and white behavior, but until now much of this writing has been ignored. Black on White reverses this trend by presenting the work of more than fifty major figures, including James Baldwin, Derrick Bell, Ralph Ellison, W.E.B. Du Bois, bell hooks, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker to take a closer look at the many meanings of whiteness in our society.
Rich in irony, artistry, passion, and common sense, these reflections on what Langston Hughes called the ways of white folks illustrate how whiteness as a racial identity derives its meaning not as a biological category but as a social construct designed to uphold racial inequality.Powerful and compelling, Black on White provides a much-needed perspective that is sure to have a major impact on the study of race and race relations in America.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - schraubd - LibraryThing

An excellent, thought-provoking collection. It is so rare that White people "look behind the mirror", so to speak, and see themselves through other's eyes. Roediger is obviously one of the most ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ruby - LibraryThing

A collection of short classics on the narrow but interesting topic of just what is it with these white people anyway. The book provides a nice introduction to the work of a great number of excellent ... Read full review


Confronting Whiteness and Seeing Through Race
Imagination 1992
David Walker Whites as Heathens and Christians 1830

12 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1998)

David R. Roediger is professor of history and chair of American studies at the University of Minnesota.  The author of The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class and Towards the Abolition of Whiteness, Roediger lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Bibliographic information