Nigrescence and EudaimoniaWilliam E. Cross Jr.
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
Black Identity Viewed from a Barber’s Chairends 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.
“Black Identity Viewed from a Barber’s Chair is classic Bill Cross, a brilliant jazz ensemble—part intellectual history, part memoir, part social and political history, and part critical science. Elegant and original, this book is both groundbreaking and backward-looking in ways that carve new and innovative intellectual paths. Cross re-views Frazier, Clark, Du Bois, and the works on Black racial identities. And he reflects thoughtfully on his own work, the relentless persistence of the deficit perspective, and where the field needs to go. This book is just stunning; Cross moves in and out of political and intellectual history with brilliance.”
—Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
“An impressive synthesis of psychology and Black studies, Black Identity Viewed from a Barber’s Chair is an intellectually interesting journey through Black history by one of the most significant Black theorists of our time. Cross is an erudite and insightful thinker of the highest order, and this book provides context for the creation of Black psychology as a discipline. It is a fitting conclusion to his life’s work.”
—Kevin Cokley, Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, and author of The Myth of Black Anti-Intellectualism: A True Psychology of African American Students
"This is a first-rate overview of Black identity by Cross, a leading psychologist and major developer of Nigrescence theory and the Cross Racial Identity Scale measuring Black self-identity. Here, he thoroughly analyzes his and other leading Black psychologists’ lifespan models of Black consciousness.... Summing Up: Highly recommended."
"(This book) is part professional memoir, part introduction to Black Studies; part intellectual history, part introduction to psychology; part declaration of support for humanist psychology; and altogether insistent on the manifest diversity of Black ontology.... All in all, with its conservational tone, accessible writing, and didactic quality, Cross very much delivers on the 'educational narrative' he sets out to offer. I recommend this book highly."
—Ethnic and Racial Studies
"(T)his pointed book, which can be used as a casual read or as required academic reading, provides the sort of interrogation that we need to reengage, reimagine, and retell the stories of our Blackness in ways that uplift, empower, and advance us."
—Teachers College Record