A capacious and mind-opening experience awaits within.
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
This brief but incisive reflection on the history of voting among African-Americans takes the form of a classic personal essay: light and conversational, circling its subject in a deliberately meandering style that ends up revealing more than a frontal attack might have.
—The New Yorker
[A] slim but powerful volume.
—Bonnie Greer, The Independent
[This] slim book . . . offers a brisk history of black voting rights. It covers a lot of ground, surveying the trajectory of the civil-rights movement, musing on the influence of social media in the 2012 election, and describing the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision overturning a key section of the Voting Rights Act.
—Ari Berman, The Nation
Blackballed is timely and essential. Recent police killings of black boys and men have once again pushed race to the forefront of public awareness, and Darryl Pinckney’s slender volume asks that we pause and look deeper—into the past, into the current state of our democracy and into “what black means now.”
—Patricia Sullivan, The Washington Post
Part memoir, part historical reflection, all political: there’s something for everyone.
—Katherine Morgan, “15 Books About Race Everyone Should Read,” Real Simple
As young Americans take to the streets to say black lives matter, they're often told to vote. While voting is important, it's also important to remember how black political representation has been chipped away by voter ID laws, gerrymandering and felon disenfranchisement. Blackballed addresses the struggle for voting rights and for racial equality more broadly, drawing on Pinckney's own experiences and writings of civil rights leaders to create a complicated picture of black political identity.
—Isabella Rosario, Code Switch, NPR
A slim volume of two essays that challenge the very notion of a “post-racial” America. . . . [P]articularly incisive on the process of marketing black stereotypes . . . Not a manifesto but a thoughtful examination of ideas.
[E]ntertaining and enlightening . . . Pinckney enlivens his sketches of historical figures with snapshots of the most dramatic moments in their lives and examinations of the deeper political contexts in which those moments unfolded. . . . Like [Jess] Row and [Claudia] Rankine, Pinckney matches narrative form to function in clever and striking ways.
—Matt Wray, Public Books
Any reader familiar with the essays of Darryl Pinckney—in the New York Review of Books, for instance, or 2014’s Blackballed, a memoir/political dissection of efforts to suppress African American voter rights—knows that his writing is consistently informed by intellectual savvy and sharp wit. His fusion of the personal and the political makes him a peerless witness and participant, and lends his voice a weight and force that never comes at the expense of style or grace.
—Damian Van Denburgh, SFGate
Pinckney details how the history of the African American vote has shaped the psyche of political participation. In this short study, the author relies on scholars, commentators, and personal anecdotes to define how the ballot is a powerful evolving tool that African Americans can use to change society. . . . Recommended for political junkies and those seeking a quick study to gain a basic understanding of the importance of voting rights for African Americans.
—Library Journal, starred review
Blackballed is a masterfully-crafted study of American democracy and the changing role of the black vote within it, from Reconstruction to the election of Barack Obama. It is insightful, personal, informative, and remarkably timely. The book not only speaks to current questions about race within the social and political arenas, but to broader issues of the health and legitimacy of a democracy in which some voices are kept from entering the dialogue. Blackballed is one of those special works that effortlessly transports readers to another time while subtly drawing thematic ties to the present day. One leaves the experience not only appreciating the work done by generations past, but contemplating one’s own role in the historical arc.
—Challenges to Democracy, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Blackballed is a great argument for the complexities of history and politics—a welcome argument after four years of Trumpist rhetoric, brute and brutalizing in its simplicity.
—Anthony Domestico, Commonweal