Nate Meyvis

Book

Self-Portrait in Black and White, Thomas Chatterton Williams

Worth reading both as a memoir and as an argument. Williams is a strong intellect and also a strong prose stylist. The occasional sentence falls flat, but overall the mechanical quality of the book is excellent. I’m not the one to judge Williams’ central thesis: that we’d be better off attempting to transcend (or perhaps simply ignore) race. But two points stick out to me: First, that Williams gets a lot of useful intellectual mileage out of thinking carefully through the racial differences between France and America, and that I should probably apply some of the time I spend thinking about race specifically in America thinking instead in a worldwide context. Second, that what Williams wants many of his interlocutors (or, at least, what he wants me) to do is a lot harder to do than what so many others about race want their interlocutors (or me) to do.