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Synopsis

How did African-American slaves view their white masters? As gods, monsters, or another race entirely? Did nineteenth-century black Americans ever come to regard white Americans as innately superior? If not, why not? Mia Bay traces African-American perceptions of whites between 1830 and 1925 to depict America's shifting attitudes about race in a period that saw slavery, emancipation, Reconstruction, and urban migration. Much has been written about how the whites of this time viewed blacks, and about how blacks viewed themselves, but the ways in which blacks saw whites have remained a historical and intellectual mystery. Reversing the focus of such fundamental studies as George Fredrickson's The Black Image in the White Mind, Bay investigates this mystery. In doing so, she elucidates a wide range of thinking about whites by blacks, intellectual and unlettered, male and female, and free and enslaved.

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