Watermelons, Nooses and Straight Razors in CHOICE

Watermelons, Nooses, and Straight Razors: Stories from the Jim Crow Museum

By C. R. King
July 2018

This important and urgent book provides a powerful corrective to the rise of post-racial perspectives, reminding readers of the centrality of racism to the US experience. Drawing on the collections of the Jim Crow Museum, museum founder Pilgrim (Ferris State Univ.) draws on a range of examples to illustrate the force of racism, past and present. In fact, he seems intent on drawing connections between the past and present, encouraging readers to confront the ways in which public culture and popular imaginary continue to dehumanize African Americans. In eight chapters, the author troubles prevailing ideas about blackness, devoting chapters to predominant stereotypes that associate African Americans with animals, especially apes; that falsely link them with watermelons; that wrongly tie them to criminality; and that encourage violence against them, including the persistent desire to hang them. Rich with illustrations, the volume paints a disturbing picture of anti-black racism and its resilience. Indeed, these images are among the book’s more affecting aspects, propelling its analytic observations forward. This work should appeal to a wide readership, speaking to general readers and encouraging research.

Back to David Pilgrim’s Author Page