Synopses & Reviews
At the Valois "See Your Food" cafeteria on Chicago's South Side, black and white men gather around formica tables finding companionship over hot coffee and steam-table food. Mitchell Duneier spent four years at Valois writing this moving profile of the black men who congregate at "Slim's table". They take center stage in stories that illuminate a new image of black masculinity and respectability. Duneier introduces us to Slim, a car mechanic living in the ghetto, who shows his concern for Bart, a prejudiced white senior citizen. In this story of black masculinity and the possibilities of racial integration, Slim treats Bart with care and affection, which moves the old man to the limits of his own potential for tolerance and respect. We meet at Valois a group of men who are firm, resolute, sincere, and sensitive. There is Ted, retired from the army and working in a photo lab, whose pronouncements about American society and politics illustrate the standard of respectability in black America. And Jackson, a semi-retired crane operator and longshoreman who lives in a ramshackle apartment without a telephone. In his old age, he struggles lifting boxes at the docks to pay off overwhelming medical bills. Slim's Table helps demolish the narrow sociological picture of black men and the simple, media-reinforced stereotypes which restrict blacks to one of two groups - the ghetto underclass and the so-called middle-class role models. In between is a "respectable" citizenry, too often ignored and little understood. Duneier demonstrates that a proper understanding of the men at Slim's table calls into question fundamental assumptions that have long dominated discussions of urban poverty. This leadshim to fashion a new way of looking at role models and at the exodus of the black middle class from the inner city. In a pioneering, revisionist analysis of many classic works in black studies, he also argues that some of the most "enlightened" books ultimately confirm the b
At the Valois "See Your Food" cafeteria on Chicago's South Side, black and white men gather over cups of coffee and steam-table food. Mitchell Duneier, a sociologist, spent four years at the Valois writing this moving profile of the black men who congregate at "Slim's Table." Praised as "a marvelous study of those who should not be forgotten" by the Wall Street Journal,Slim's Table
helps demolish the narrow sociological picture of black men and simple media-reinforced stereotypes. In between is a "respectable" citizenry, too often ignored and little understood.
"Slim's Table is an astonishment. Duneier manages to fling open windows of perception into what it means to be working-class black, how a caring community can proceed from the most ordinary transactions, all the while smashing media-induced stereotypes of the races and race relations."and#8212;Citation for Chicago Sun Times Chicago Book of the Year Award
"An instant classic of ethnography that will provoke debate and provide insight for years to come."and#8212;Michael Eric Dyson, Chicago Tribune
"Mr. Duneier sees the subjects of his study as people and he sees the scale of their lives as fully human, rather than as diminished versions of grander lives lived elsewhere by people of another color. . . . A welcome antidote to trends in both journalism and sociology."and#8212;Roger Wilkins, New York Times Book Review
Includes bibliographical references (p. 173-185) and index.
Table of Contents
Pt. One: The Caring Community
1. Slim and Bart
2. Black Men: Transcending Roles and Images
Pt. Two: The Moral Community
3. Valois as a "Black Metropolis"
4. The Standard of Respectability
Pt. Three: Membership in Society
6. The Need for Contact with Society
7. A Higher Self
Pt. Four: You're White, He's Black, I'm a Sociologist: Who's Innocent?
8. The Underclass and the Middle Class
9. The Stereotype of Blacks in Sociology and Journalism