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Seeing Race in Modern America$
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Matthew Pratt Guterl

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781469610689

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9781469610696_Guterl

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Bought and Sold

Bought and Sold

(p.60) Chapter Three Bought and Sold
Seeing Race in Modern America

Matthew Pratt Guterl

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows that, long after slavery, it is common to see the black body not merely as evidence of humanity but also as an object, and as a metaphor for other objects, so that the desirable and raced body is densely related to the symbolic surround of American consumer culture. To visualize blackness, then, is to strangely conflate blackness and a product, a bauble, or an object that we desperately desire. Indeed, inasmuch as the postemancipation desire for the black body connoted—and continues to connote—a desire for the presumably stable relations of slavery, the love of blackness as a medium for advertisement also breathes life, as we understand it, into the otherwise static and disembodied world of things. To see the black body as a commodity, then, is to see race in a very particular way, to make use of a very unusual, very long lived sightline.

Keywords:   slavery, black body, evidence of humanity, metaphor, raced body, consumer culture

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