The Route to the Crossroads of Race and Ethnicity: Contemporary Access Roads
Just as historical records from earlier periods give voice to Americans' responses to the events of their times, modern writing about race and ethnicity documents the ways contemporary Americans are thinking about their present experience of these issues.
The ten books listed below are access routes to a contemporary understanding of race and ethnicity in America. All have been published since 1990 and are in print. The length of work is given. Selections from larger works are suggested.
Dooley, Brian. Black and Green. London: Pluto Press. 1998 ( 178 pages) Two chapters: "On the March." "Irish America." Presents the historical intersections between the African American Civil Rights movement and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights movement. Considers the inspiration and leadership provided by African Americans.
Harper, Michael, Songlines in Michaeltree. New and Collected Poems. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. 2000. ( 389 pages) Five poems: Song: "I Want a Witness." "Irish Suit." "Homage to Mamie Owens." "My Father's Face." "The Hidden Friends of Frederick Douglass." Reflections of an African American poet on family, American history and mixed racial heritage. Considers identity, racism and black achievements.
Heaney, Seamus. Selected Poems: 1966-1987. New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. 1990. (273 pages) Five poems: "Digging." "Requiem for the Croppies." "Clearances." "From Whatever You Say Say Nothing." "The Strand at Lough Beg." Reflections of an Irishman on Irish history, family and the Troubles of Northern Ireland. Considers the enduring effect of history and the joining of personal and national sorrows.
MacDonald, Michael Patrick. All Souls. Boston: Beacon Press. 1999. ( 266 pages) Two chapters: "Ghetto Heaven." "Exile." A discussion of growing up poor, white and Irish American in South Boston, Mass. Considers the effects of being taught myths of Irish superiority and hatred for blacks.
McCall, Nathan. What's Going On. New York: Vintage Books. 1997. (174 pages) Two essays: "Old Town: The Negro Problem Revisited." "The Elevator Ride." A discussion of the state of the races in America today. Considers the racial fear which influences individuals' behaviors.
Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark. New York: Vintage Books. 1993. (91 pages) Lecture One: "Black Matters." A discussion of the construction of "literary whiteness" and 'literary blackness". Considers the effect of the unnamed, unfree population on American literary tradition.
Mullin, James (ed.). The Irish Americans. Illinois: McDougall Littell.2001. ( 224 pages) Part V: Irish Americans at the Millennium. Five contemporary voices discuss the modern Irish in America. Subjects include the impact of Irish music, cultural identity and Irish history. Considers the challenges to Irish Americans to address America's current problems.
O'Toole, Fintan. The Lie of the Land. London: verso. 1997. (172 pages) Two essays: "Going Native." "No Place Like Home." A discussion of the use of barbarian, black, Indian as images of Celtic Irish. Considers influence of history on use of images. Considers the confusion of time and place in Ireland's self-identity.
Stepto, Robert. Blue as the Lake. Boston: Beacon Press. 1998. (207 pages) Chapter: "Vineyard." A discussion on the question of being black and successful and of mixed racial heritage. Considers the question, "Is there room for me?"
Williams, Patricia J. Seeing a Color Blind Future. New York: The Noonday Press. 1997. (74 pages) Two Essays: "The Emperor's New Clothes" "The War Between the Worlds." Discusses the unspoken assumptions that are a barrier to healing the racial divide. Considers the absence of acknowledging whiteness and racial difference as unspoken barriers.