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Through Our Eyes

Through Our Eyes: African American Men's Experiences of Race, Gender, and Violence

Gail Garfield
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Through Our Eyes
    Book Description:

    How have African American men interpreted and what meaning have they given to social conditions that position them as the primary perpetrators of violence? How has this shaped the ways they see themselves and engaged the world? Through Our Eyes provides a view of black men's experiences that challenges scholars, policy makers, practitioners, advocates, and students to grapple with the reality of race, gender, and violence in America.This multi-level analysis explores the chronological life histories of eight black men from the aftermath of World War II through the Cold War and into today. Gail Garfield identifies the locations, impact, and implications of the physical, personal, and social violence that enters the lives of African American men. She addresses questions critical to understanding how race, gender, and violence are insinuated into black men's everyday lives and how experiences are constructed, reconstructed, and interpreted. By appreciating the significance of how African American men live through what it means to be black and male in America, this book envisions the complicated dynamics that devalue their lives, those of their family, and society.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4944-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Prologue
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    “When we think about the violence that we commit against ourselves in different forms and the violence against other people that we commit, we must forgive ourselves for what we do to other people, but we need to forgive ourselves for what we do to ourselves. That’s something that we often don’t have the opportunity to do. We often don’t realize that it’s something we even should do.

    As black men, we get so caught up in these processes of manhood and masculinity in a white male-controlled environment. We allow other people to define who we are. We just need...

  5. Introduction: “I Am a Man”
    (pp. 1-33)

    Through our eyesis a continuation of my search to understand the importance of violence in the lived experiences of African American women, men, and children. The physical, personal, and social violence that enter their lives comes from some place. My search is to identify those locations, their impacts, and the implications they hold for understanding not only how African Americans experience violence but also how they see themselves as a result of their experiences. Having examined the experiences of black women, I now cast a critical gaze on the lives of African American men.

    This book parallels research I...

  6. Chapter 1 Little Men
    (pp. 34-58)

    During the 1940s, the profundity of race, gender, and violence occupied a worldwide stage as man’s inhumanity to man was once again on full display. The world was in the grips of the Greatest War: The contested terrain was no less than global domination, for ideas of racial superiority and hegemonic manhood were vested in the strength of nation-states to employ ruthless and murderous violence. As the United States sought to defend the virtues of democracy over totalitarianism by winning the war against fascism and a new world order, Americans were summoned to wage an international battle for equality of...

  7. Chapter 2 The Souls of Black Boys
    (pp. 59-85)

    In the aftermath of World War II, the genocidal atrocities that shocked the world led the Allied Powers of Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States to form the United Nations (UN), a new organization dedicated to international freedom, justice, and peace. To represent U.S. interests, the Truman administration appointed Eleanor Roosevelt as UN delegate. Lending moral and political credibility to the position, she served as the first chairperson of the UN Commission on Human Rights, a body responsible for drafting an international declaration that affirmed basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. This declaration established moral principles that...

  8. Chapter 3 Manhood
    (pp. 86-137)

    By the 1950s, much of the postwar world was divided among the former Allied Powers. Despite enormous death tolls, human suffering, and infrastructural devastation experienced on the home front, in the aftermath of World War II, England and France were again firmly committed to maintaining an economic grip on their African and Asian colonies, through violence if necessary. Moscow and the Soviet Union solidified their communist grip on most of Eastern Europe through violence, as their political influence expanded into Africa and Asia as well. In Washington, D.C., and throughout the United States, fear of spreading communism persuaded the country...

  9. Chapter 4 Imprisoned Manhood
    (pp. 138-187)

    During the Cold War, the United States sought to halt communist expansion by imposing democracy on Vietnam through violence. For many Americans, the loss of that war represented a crushing military defeat to U.S. stature as moral leader of the free world. To regain its prestige, in 1977 the Carter administration set a new course for America’s foreign policy. A human rights agenda became the focal point of international relations. On October 5, 1977, Jimmy Carter signed the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This was indeed a significant international development. For twenty years, the United States...

  10. Chapter 5 Manhood Rearticulated
    (pp. 188-226)

    During the 1960s, as governor Ronald Reagan vowed to end student protests erupting on college campuses throughout the University of California system. Following his order to “clean up the mess at Berkeley,” the National Guard with bayonets drawn occupied the campus for seventeen days. Reagan’s hard lined approach drew national attention that not only helped to positioned him as a future presidential candidate, but also set the tone and tenor of his administration. As President, in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan played a critical role in shifting the political landscape to the conservative right, which resulted in a restructuring of both...

  11. Conclusion: Post-race and Post-gender Fiction in a Violent World
    (pp. 227-232)

    The men were born during or in the immediate aftermath of World War II. In the postwar world that lay before them, they lived through enormous social and cultural transformations. Lingering on or just beneath the surface those changes announced the complex interplay of race and gender. In many notable historical moments men’s decisions and actions offered competing visions of humanity: one advanced the hopes and dreams for peace, justice, and freedom around the world, and the other undermined and compromised the value of human life on a global scale. In the decisions and actions that shape the course of...

  12. References
    (pp. 233-246)
  13. Index
    (pp. 247-250)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 251-251)