Black Identity Viewed from a Barber's Chair

Nigrescence and Eudaimonia

William E. Cross Jr.
William E. Cross Jr., recipient of the 2020 Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in the Applications of Psychology, American Psychological Association
Book Cover

PB: $27.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2106-7
Publication: Jun 21

HC: $74.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-2105-0
Publication: Jun 21

Ebook: $27.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2107-4
Publication: Jun 21

192 pages
5.5 x 8.25
4 tables, 2 figs.

On Blackness, identity formation, and the deconstruction of the deficit perspective on Black life


Throughout his esteemed career, William Cross has tried to reconcile how Black men he met in the barber shop “seemed so normal,” but the portrayal in college textbooks of Black people in general—and the Black working class in particular—is self-hating and pathological. In Black Identity Viewed from a Barber’s Chair, Cross revisits his ground-breaking model on Black identity awakening known as Nigrescence, connects W. E. B. DuBois’s concept of double consciousness to an analysis of how Black identity is performed in everyday life, and traces the origins of the deficit perspective on Black culture to scholarship dating back to the 1930s. He follows with a critique showing such deficit and Black self-hatred tropes were always based on extremely weak evidence.

Black Identity Viewed from a Barber’s Chair ends with a new understanding of the psychology of slavery that helps explain why and how, during the first twelve years of emancipation, countless former slaves exhibited amazing psychological, political, and cultural independence. Once free, their previously hidden psychology became public.

His book sets out to disrupt and agitate as Cross attempts to more accurately capture the humanity of Black people that has been overlooked in previous research.

About the Author(s)

William E. Cross Jr. is Professor Emeritus of Higher Education and Counseling Philosophy at the University of Denver and the author of Shades of Black: Diversity in African American Identity (Temple), coeditor of Meaning-Making, Internalized Racism, and African American Identity, and coauthor of Dimensions of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Beliefs. He is the recipient of the 2020 Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in the Applications of Psychology from the American Psychological Association.