Race and the Eclipse of Society
Routledge – 2002 – 344 pages
In Dark Thoughts, eminent sociologist Charles Lemert dares to say, and explain, what everyone already knows - that the modern world was built on the need of white people to pretend they are not as dark as the next person.
Delving poignantly into the history and literature of domination, Lemert retells key moments of the twentieth-century by profiling figures like W.E.B. DuBois, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Anna Julia Cooper, Nella Larson, Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali. In a rare and unflinching look at his own complicated history, Lemert also explores his own racism, his struggle with the suicide of his oldest son, as well as growing up as the virtual son of a black mother and his life now as the real father of an African-American daughter. Dark Thoughts speaks to the most urgent social issues at the beginning of the twenty-first century: race relations, multiculturalism, and social justice.
"A dazzling tour-de-force that will unsettle you, astonish you, make you think, and maybe make you weep…I came away thrilled and inspired." -- Louise DeSalvo, author of Writing as a Way of Healing
"No reader will leave this book unmoved. Writing with optimistic pessimism of this society's dark divisions, Charles Lemert is a one-of-a-kind sociological voice." -- Joe Feagin, author of Racist America
"If you are ready to reflect on your values and your society in eclipse, then this book will be an invaluable help to you." -- Immanuel Wallerstein, author of After Liberalism
"A work of shimmering beauty and originality." -- Judith Stacey, author of Brave New Families
"Charles Lemert's Dark Thoughts is a dazzling tour de force that will unsettle you, astonish you, make you think, and make you weep. Lemert boldly unravels and rethinks the perplexities surrounding what race, color, gender, and identity are, are not, and might be construed to be. Brilliant turns of thought and feelings, astonishing segues and juxtapositions, I came away thrilled and inspired by someone who shows us what it is like to be fully human." -- Louise DeSalvo, author of Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives
"Lemert makes the study of race central to the task of sociological theory. This innovative book also grows from the work of Black feminist theory, insisting on the significance of gender and sexuality, along with race, for thinking about the grand questions of sociological theory." -- Margaret L. Andersen, editor of Race, Class, Gender: An Anthology
"This challenging and intriguing collection of essays speaks to a range of contemporary inequalities where race is a key ingredient. Drawing from key social thinkers and his own life, Lemert helps readers see the light and dark within analytic categories and in the process reminds us that solid social theory is rooted in the recognition of people's lived experiences." -- Elizabeth Higginbotham, author of Too Much to Ask: Black Women in the Era of Integration
"No reader will leave this book unmoved. Writing with optimistic pessimism of this society's dark divisions, Lemert provides a deeply probing manifesto of conscience that seeks a truly democratic America." -- Joe Feagin is author of Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations
"Lemert has written a book about us, our world, and the race issues that are inescapably central to it. If you are ready to reflect on your values and your society in eclipse, then this book will be an invaluable help to you." -- Immanuel Wallerstein, co-author of Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities
"A work of shimmering beauty and originality. It takes a heart that has plumbed the darkness of shared and solitary grief to achieve such luminance. Social theory will never be the same." -- Judith Stacey, author of In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Postmodern Age
"Charles Lemert's autobiographical and scholarly narrative is a mapping of border crossings. Dark Thoughts reveals our shared humanity, fragility, and courage. It offers sustenance to travelers seeking new paths for community in a fragmented society." -- Joy James, author of Shadowboxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics
"The insightful & often emotional look at the complexities surrounding race, color, gender, & identity emphasizes that social theory stems from the lived experiences of real people. Readers are called on to reflect on the values of a society in eclipse, & the dark thoughts of the universal self, in order to overcome the fear of intermingling that led to divisions that obscured the dreams of true humanity." -- Cambridge Scientific Abstracts
Charles Lemert is Andrus Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University and is the author of numerous books, most recently Social Things, and Postmodernism is Not What You Think.