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Beyond the White NegroEmpathy and Anti-Racist Reading$
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Kimberly Chabot Davis

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038433

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038433.001.0001

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Cross-Racial Empathy: Viewing the White Self through Black Eyes

Cross-Racial Empathy: Viewing the White Self through Black Eyes

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction Cross-Racial Empathy: Viewing the White Self through Black Eyes
Source:
Beyond the White Negro
Author(s):

Kimberly Chabot Davis

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252038433.003.0001

This introductory chapter focuses on the progressive potential of empathetic feeling to redress a scholarly bias against compassion, empathy, and sympathy, particularly in American studies. Rather than viewing empathy as a “passive ideal” and an impediment to political change, the chapter argues that it is an active cognitive process that can play an important role in changing attitudes and self-perception or even catalyzing action. Tying in with this volume's overall response to critics who believe that the forces of commodification render cultural consumption a tainted vehicle for cross-racial understanding, the chapter argues against a too-hasty dismissal of white consumption of black cultural texts as a potential conduit for social change. In addition, the chapter also discusses multiplex subjectivity and the insider–outsider debate as part of the book's broader ethnographic study.

Keywords:   empathy, commodification, cultural consumption, cross-racial understanding, black cultural texts, multiplex subjectivity, insider–outsider debate, White Negroes

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