Silhouettes: Issue of Black & White in America -
A Journey Thought Black History as Told By a White Professor
by M.L. Weston Trafford Publishing

"This in no way is meant to suggest that the students wished to hold me in a warm and sustained embrace, or that we would sing "kumbaya" in unison, but rather that they understood from my own openness, and willingness to examine the African American experience, that a mutual comprehension was therefore possible and so too was progress."

Professor Michael L. Weston recounts his experiences as a white professor teaching African-American history at Genessee Community College to a primarily black student body. He explores issues such as black history and racial politics with a focus on the tensions between black and white students in his classes, as well as between black students and his own white professorship.

The book is dry at points, with many examples that are recounted without any sense of immediacy or urgency—traits that would allow the reader to connect them much more easily with the emotionally charged issues under discussion. However, Weston takes care to point out places where both black students and white students struggle with their understanding of black history. For instance, he begins by describing the slave trade on the African side, pointing out that many tribes close to the coast actually participating in the capture and sale of other African individuals to slave traders—a fact he says his black students often have difficulty accepting. On the other hand, he notes that white students are frequently clueless when it comes to how racism still animates U.S. politics today.

As a personal exploration of how racial tensions are played out in an undergraduate classroom, the book is an interesting read. Regarding the overall picture, Silhouettes might better connect the misunderstandings and prejudices of students to the larger social framework in the United States.

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