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Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Seasonby David Shields
"Race, the [NBA's] taboo topic, is the league's true subject," Shields writes. Carrying that hypothesis into the 1994-95 season, University of Washington professor David Shields attended most of the Seattle Supersonics' home games and watched the road matches on TV. He listened to radio call-in shows, lurked in Internet chat rooms, read countless articles about the ongoing season, and listened to just about anyone who would talk, directly or not, about race in the NBA. Specifically, he wanted to investigate "how white people (including especially myself) think about and talk about black heroes, black scapegoats, black bodies." Though Shields answers few of the questions he raises, Black Planet succeeds in bringing forthright honesty to a subject too-long ignored. Hoop fans will love the running commentary of All Star guard, Gary Payton, but hey, I haven't watched an NBA game in years, and I couldn't put the book down.
Synopses & Reviews
The NBA is a place where, without ever acknowledging it white fans and black players enact and quietly explode virtually every racial issue and tension in the culture at large. In "Black Planet" the author/cultural narrator David Shields lays himself open as a representative of American fandom in order to scrutinize how white people think and talk about black heroes, black scapegoats and black masculinity. As a fan among fans, as a voice among other voices, as participant and observer, David Shields places himself in the middle of a complex social ambiguity. As a white fan of a predominately black, sport, he sets out to chronicle a season of the Seattle Supersonics by immersing himself in games, radio shows, the internet, charity events and print media- to explore the ways in which the game is talked about, presented and understood by the player and the fan. Sometimes funny and sometimes painfully on target, Shields reveals a telling commentary on the culture at large through a national obsession.
"Black Planet accomplishes a rare feat by tackling race head on, gamely examining what Shields calls 'white people's reverence for, resentment toward, and colonization of black people's bodies.' " Chicago Tribune
"Black Planet is a funny, wickedly observant, highly intelligent book about Us and Them, I and Thou, black and white, male and female, parent and child, spectator and star." Jonathan Raban
A timely and provocative look at racial attitudes and perceptions as chronicled by a critically acclaimed author and avid basketball fan during his season-long close observation of a single NBA team.
About the Author
David Shields' previous books are Remote, Dead Languages, A Handbook for Drowning, and Heroes.
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