Keepin' It Real (Book)

Essays on Race in Contemporary America

Keepin' It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America is a vibrant and eclectic collection of essays written during the most racially turbulent period of the modern era – the end of the Obama Administration and the start of the Trump Administration – that examine emerging racial tensions, current movements and controversies, black icons and celebrities and related issues that are more relevant today than ever in the current racial climate.

Category: Cultural Studies


The past decade has been one of the most racially turbulent periods in the modern era, as the complicated breakthrough of the Obama presidency gave way to the racially charged campaigning and eventual governing of Donald Trump. Keepin' It Real presents a wide-ranging group of essays that take on key aspects of the current landscape surrounding racial issues in America, including the place of the Obamas, the rise of the alt-right and White nationalism, Donald Trump, Colin Kaepernick and the backlash against his protests, Black Lives Matter, sexual politics in the black community and much more. 

America's racial problems aren't going away any time soon. Keepin' It Real serves as a marker of the arguments raging right now, and an argument for the changes that need to be made to become the better nation it has long imagined itself to be.  

Elwood Watson is a full professor of history, African American studies and gender studies at East Tennessee State University. He is the author of a number of books, several anthologies and numerous articles. 


1. When Racism Hits Close to Home: On Your Campus

2. The 2016 Olympics: The Trilogy of Hypocrisy, Racism, and White Privilege

3. Dylann Storm Roof: The Deranged, Dark Face of White Nationalism

4. Conservatives Still Scapegoating Barack Obama

5. Colin Kaepernick: The Undeniable Reality of American Racial Hypocrisy

6. Birtherism = Bullshit

7. Michelle Obama: Playa Hatin' on the Former First Lady

8. Denial of Supreme Court Seat: One of a Long Line of Racial Slights toward Predsident Obama

9. The Intersection of Racial, Gender, and Economic Politics

10. The Alt-Right and the Repulsive Spirit of White Supremacy


11. Authentically Black: The Debate Lives On

12. Mental Illness: Yes – It Is a Black Thing!

13. Black Lives Matter Too

14. Black History Month: Beyond One Month

15. Message to Starbucks: Tackling Racism Will Require More than a Few Hours of Racial Bias Training

16. We Must Focus More on Substantial Issues as Opposed to Fleeting Symbolism

17. An Open Letter to Some on the Conservative Right: Slavery Was Totally F*cked Up, Period

18. Self-Hatred in the Black Community

19. Rachel Dolezal: The Potential Perversity of White Privilege

20. The Black Community and the Complex Politics of Homophobia

21. Michael Dyson and Cornel West: Much Ado about Ego

22. 1-800-Blame-A-Black-Man

23. Does Black America Deserve Reparations? Yes, Period


24. Violence against and Demonisation of Black Women is Often Overlooked

25. Emmett Till: Will Justice Ever Be Served?

26. Stephon Clark, Antwon Rose, Alton Sterling, Philando Castille: The Devaluation of Black Bodies

27. John Lewis: An American Icon

28. People of Color: Continually Demeaned, Devalued, and Dehumanized

29. Pepsi Fiasco Demonstrated the Crucial Need for Greater Diversity in Corporate America


30. O.J. Simpson: Still Captivating and Polarizing the Nation

31. Muhammad Ali: Bold, Daring, Authentic, Problematic, and Kept It 100 Percent Real

32. Bill Cosby: America's Dad Hoodwinked Us

33. Prince: Bold, Daring, Black, and Unapologetically Controversial

34. Jemele Hill Spoke Truth to Power

35. Donald Trump and the NFL: The Politics of White Fragility and White Supremacy

36. Bill Maher, and the Nigger-Word Debate

37. Roseanne Barr and the Politics of Right-Wing Hypocrisy 

38. Aretha Franklin: Feminist, Activist, Phenomenal Woman

39. Omarosa, Donald Trump, and Unalloyed Racial Bullhorns

40. Why Is the Conservative Right So Obsessed with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

41. R. Kelly and the Ongoing Disregard, Devaluation, Denigration and Degradation of Black Women

'In this ambitious collection of essays on racial conflict in the contemporary US, Watson provides historical context for the consequences of persistent racism. . . . The book’s four parts examine the events that have exacerbated racial tensions in the 21st century, including the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, a broken criminal justice system, and the harmful effects of 'whitelash' on low-income people of color prior to the housing crisis of 2008. Watson then analyzes the rise of alt-right figures and the impact of their attacks on the black community, which has struggled to stay 'woke' in the shadow of perpetual violence inflicted on nonwhite bodies. He concludes with commentary on figures in popular culture and the detrimental effect of their celebrity status on black Americans. Keepin’ It Real is equally accessible to general and academic readerships, providing vital context and contemporary discourse on the state of race relations in Trump's America... Highly recommended.'

E. K. Jackson, CHOICE

'A compelling new book by historian Elwood David Watson, Ph.D. All audiences can benefit from Watson’s astute analysis and important insights on recent controversial issues involving racial equality and social justice. Watson deftly chronicles racism in contemporary society with a no-holds-barred approach which provides much needed transparency in today’s overly saturated high-tech Information Age.'

David B. Grinberg, American Diversity Report
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