The University of Wisconsin Press


Racial & Ethnic Issues / American Studies / African Studies / Media Studies




When Whites Riot
Writing Race and Violence in American and South African Culture
Sheila Smith McKoy


When black rage explodes, it's a riot. When white rage erupts, it's . . . a protest.

In a bold work that cuts across racial, ethnic, cultural, and national boundaries, Sheila Smith McKoy reveals how race colors the idea of violence in the United States and in South Africa—two countries inevitably and inextricably linked by the central role of skin color in personal and national identity.

Although race riots are usually seen as black events in both the United States and South Africa, they have played a significant role in shaping the concept of whiteness and white power in both nations. This emerges clearly from Smith McKoy's examination of four riots that demonstrate the relationship between the two nations and the apartheid practices that have historically defined them: North Carolina's Wilmington Race Riot of 1898; the Soweto Uprising of 1976; the Los Angeles Rebellion in 1992; and the pre-election riot in Mmabatho, Bhoputhatswana in 1994. Pursuing these events through narratives, media reports, and film, Smith McKoy shows how white racial violence has been disguised by race riots in the political and power structures of both the United States and South Africa.

The first transnational study to probe the abiding inclination to “blacken” riots, When Whites Riot unravels the connection between racial violence—both the white and the “raced”—in the United States and South Africa, as well as the social dynamics that this connection sustains.

Sheila Smith McKoy is an associate professor of English and the director of the Africana Studies Program at North Carolina State University. She is the editor of the journal Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora.

Inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at publicity@uwpress.wisc.edu or (608) 263-0734.
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December 2001
LC: 2001002077 E
184 pp.   6 x 9   12 b/w photos

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A brilliant, daring, and original work . . . forcing us to see the previously unseeable white racial violence that set the terms for black response. . . . When Whites Riot  will make a singular contribution to the bitter debate about race in America and South Africa.
—Michael Eric Dyson, author of
I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr.

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