Elwood David Watson, Keepin It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America (2019)

Elwood David Watson delivers a collection of powerful essays in his new book, Keepin It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America. The symbolic evolution of African Americans over the last five years comes into clear focus. In the first section, Whitelash, Watson delivers a diagnosis about the misunderstanding of Barack Obama’s presidential administration between 2009 and 2017. The second section, Woke, examines the ways that a new generation abandoned the illusory dreams of tolerant and inclusive cultures after the Red Summer of 2015. In this moment, it is the reassertion of racial violence that becomes the subject of the third set of essays. Autocratic white supremacy in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and Australia rely on the random imposition of violence against the African, Indigenous, and Chicano diasporas to reassure European elites and their global allies about the stability of the modern Christian world. The final section emphasizes the crises of Black celebrity as the major figures of integrated commercial middle class status in movies, television, and music are destroyed by their greed and idolatry. Ultimately, Keepin It Real sorts through the assorted trauma of the Donald Trump presidential administration after 2017. It is an invitation to the long historical patterns of racial and religious terrorism that defined American presidents as varied as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, and Ronald Reagan.

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