Synopses & Reviews
The National Basketball Association 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, David Shields explores how, in a predominantly black sport, white fans--including especially himself--think about and talk about black heroes, black scapegoats, black bodies.
During the 1994-95 NBA season, Shields went to the Seattle SuperSonics' home games; watched their away games on TV; listened to interviews and call-in shows; talked, or tried to talk, to players, coaches, and agents; attended charity events; corresponded with members of the Sonics newsgroup on the Web. He kept a journal and over the next few years transformed that journal into this book, which is focused sharply on white spectators' relationship to black athletes, in particular Shields' own identification with Gary Payton, the team's language-besotted point-guard.
Through the apparently simple vehicle of a daily diary running from November 5, 1994 to May 5, 1995, and ranging from a dispute between two fans over the sale of a ticket to the national media frenzy surrounding Charles Barkley's jest "That's why I hate white people," David Shields confronts the nature of racism (including his own)--the otherness in ourselves that we project onto strangers. He takes us via sports passion deep into the American racial divide.
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.
Read exclusive essays by David Shields from 2010