Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Interracial Intimacies

Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy has a new book out: Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption. I read much of Randy's book in draft form a few years ago, and thought very highly of it. It should be a thought-provoking read. Here's a quote from the Washington Post's review:
For some time Randall Kennedy has been a member of that small coterie of our most lucid big thinkers about race. By trade and training, he is a professor of law (at Harvard), but his extraordinary body of writings, which include "Race, Crime, and the Law" and "Nigger," as well as his pioneering Reconstruction Magazine, forms an expansive chronicle of the nation's racial landscape. Now in "Interracial Intimacies," he emerges as a prophet of love between the races in all its tender, erotic and nurturant guises.

Throughout, Kennedy displays his usual plain-spoken sharpness, his disavowal of the determined drama of much academic race theory, and an old-fashioned respect for empirical complexities. Ranging from legal cases to contemporary mating rites, from history to novels, Kennedy examines the tangle of attraction and loathing as it has appeared from slave times through black power; in the enforcement and collapse of antimiscegenation laws; in the mix of self-abasement and defiance that energized "passing" (as white); and in recent battles over biracial families, child custody and adoption. Despite the book's density of detail and sprawling scope, the constancy of the tension between two titanic forces -- the zeal for separation and the mongrel mix of our affectionate life -- enforces a certain coherence on this epic exploration.


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