Seeing Race in Modern America

Matthew Pratt Guterl

University of North Carolina Press (publisher)

In this fiercely urgent book, Matthew Pratt Guterl focuses on how and why we come to see race in very particular ways. What does it mean to see someone as a color? As racially mixed or ethnically ambiguous? What history makes such things possible? Drawing creatively from advertisements, YouTube videos, and everything in between, Guterl redirects our understanding of racial sight away from the dominant categories of color--away from brown and yellow and black and white--and instead insists that we confront the visual practices that make those same categories seem so irrefutably important. Zooming out for the bigger picture, Guterl illuminates the long history of the practice of seeing--and believing in--race, and reveals that our troublesome faith in the details discerned by the discriminating glance is widespread and very popular. In so doing, he upends the possibility of a postracial society by revealing how deeply race is embedded in our culture, with implications that are often matters of life and death.

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