Apparently, black folks don’t have ‘biographies’

Today, I went to Barnes & Noble to spend a gift certificate I received for Father’s Day. Given the occasion, it seemed fitting to use it to buy a copy of a book I’ve been meaning to read, Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father.

Of course, I sought it under "biography." No dice. I scanned the shelf where the "O’s" would be repeatedly. I looked to see if it had been mistakenly placed under "New Biography." Nope. Then I looked to make sure it hadn’t been filed by "Barack." Nope. Not under the "B’s."

So I went to the "Current Affairs" section. No luck.

Finally, I did the thing I hate, and went to the information desk. The clerk made a beeline for the "Store Favorites" table, and handed me a copy. As one does under such circumstances, I felt constrained to explain why I had had to ask for help, muttering something about having searched and searched under "Biography."

The clerk told me it wouldn’t have been under "Biography." It would have been under "African-American."

You’ll note that on the Web site, it’s considered to be a biography. But apparently not in the store. In case you wondered, John McCain does appear under "biography." Yes, the subtitle of the book is "A Story of Race and Inheritance." I get that. But it’s still a biography — or, to be technical, and autobiography. If it was right to file this under "African-American" instead of "Biography," then the McCain books — which feature him as a Navy aviator on the cover — should have been under "military history." But they weren’t.

After I got home a few minutes ago, it occurred to me that I didn’t go check what the clerk had told me — I didn’t search the "African-American" section, assuming that such a section exists. I’ll try to remember to check next time. But I do know that there were no copies under "Biography."

23 thoughts on “Apparently, black folks don’t have ‘biographies’

  1. Matt Woolsey

    I think people in our society, including black people, have gone overboard with the African-American label. I have never been able to understand why negro is offensive if caucasion isn’t, why black somehow isn’t good enough when white is, etc, etc.
    I know that Africa is a continent and not a country, but has anyone given any thought to the idea that we may have a president for whom the label “American” won’t be good enough?

  2. USA Reader

    Matt, American ISN’T good enough for him, nor does the concept rest comfortably on him.
    Brad, I read somewhere that bookstores keep BHO books in the religion section. You know, next to the books about God. Really.

  3. John

    I’m confused. Are you bothered that you had to ask someone for information? I know that you are used to having all the answers, so I can see your dilema. Hiding that book at THE FRONT OF THE STORE in the “Favorites” section is a real disservice, eh Brad?

  4. ruintuit

    Check your public library and you’ll find the book is listed as a biography. Only in retail stores will you find this book listed as something else. Let’s hope libraries NEVER begin sorting their books like book retailers. I swear the retail stores toss coins to choose where some of their books are shelved.

  5. Lee Muller

    Look in the propaganda section.
    If you ever read Obama’s book, I would like to hear your response to all anti-American vitrol and his entire life being influenced by Marxists and Afro-centrists who hate whites.
    I know you don’t want to admit that Obama is socialist, because you would have to admit that you are a socialist on those areas where you agree with Obama. Of course, now Nancy Pelosi has called for federal confiscation of the oil industry, to be run as a state enterprise, in anticipation of a socialist victory in November.

  6. slugger

    Below is a few comments from Obama books. Thought you might like to read them.
    Pay close attention to the last comment!! Below are a few lines from Obama’s books ‘ HIS OWN WORDS: From Dreams of My Father: ‘I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites.’ From Dreams of My Father : ‘I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mothers race.’ From Dreams of My Father: ‘There was something about him that made me wary, a little too sure of himself, maybe. And white.’ From Dreams of My Father: ; ‘It remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.’ From Dreams of My Father: ‘I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didn’t speak to my own. It was into my father’s image, the black man, son of Africa , that I’d packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela.’ From Audacity of Hope: ‘I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.’

  7. bud

    I know you don’t want to admit that Obama is socialist
    No one cares if Obama is a socialist. So is Brad Warthen and yes, so is Lee Muller.

  8. just saying

    ‘I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.’
    I would hope that all Americans would have the moral courage to stand up with any group oppressed by political winds shifting in an ugly direction. (I’m assuming that ugly direction here means something like what it sounds – unjust, evil, oppressive, etc…)

  9. Lee Muller

    Socialism is un-American.
    Every socialist program is un-American.
    We are supposed be that “shining city on a hill” to the rest of the world, a free-market contrast to their stifling, oppressive socialist failures.

  10. just saying

    What was the last successful country that wasn’t a mix of capitalism and socialism?

  11. Brad Warthen

    Actually, John, the “favorites” table wasn’t at the front of the store — it was more toward the back. It WAS, however, right next to the biographies.
    But a lot of unrelated shelves and tables were near the biographies. The point is that it should have been under biographies…

  12. Lee Muller

    The only way socialism can exist very long is in a mixture with capitalism, because socialism is parasitic and needs a host economy. Extreme socialism kills off the free market, then starves itself, and its people, to death (USSR, Red China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Libya, Somalia…)
    Obama’s book should be under fiction, because he hasn’t accomplished anything in his life. All he could write about was all the Marxist influence on his life, and why he hates America.

  13. just saying

    You dodged the question. Name a successful country that didn’t have some elements of socialism (e.g. was a mix of capitalism and socialism).
    None of the democratic candidates is pushing for “extreme socialism”, or even what those backwards people in Scandinavia have.

  14. Lee Muller

    There has been no country that did not or does not have some socialism, because socialism is a primitive political construct, the residue of which lingers in even the most free societies.
    Even the best societies will always contains the impurity of socialism, because there will always be lazy and security-seeking individuals who will try to avoid personal responsibility by forcing ro deceiving others into supporting them.

  15. Lee Muller

    Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats just last week called for federal confiscation of the oil industry. If that is not extreme, what would be – shooting the industry executives and dumping them into a mass grave?
    58% of the American healthcare industry is under government control, and that is the only part which has had cost increases. Prices have actually fallen over the last 20 years in the 42% which is still under private control.

  16. just saying

    Speaking of percentages, the latest Pew research poll on religion shows that 46% of Americans would choose “bigger government providing more services” versus the 43% that would choose “smaller government providing fewer services”. 5% selected “Depends” and 6% said “Don’t know” or refused to answer. Only 20% of the respondents described themselves as liberal (vs. 37% for conservative and 36% for moderate), while 47% were at least leaning democrat versus 36% at least leaning Republican.

  17. Lee Muller

    Since only a small minority of people pay any income taxes, and the majority pay no real estate taxes, it is not surprising that they favor higher taxes on the Productive Minority, in order to pay for more handouts to themselves. That is how Greedy Socialism works.
    Of 300,000,000 people in America, only 120,000,000 file an income tax return, and only 59,000,000 of those pay any taxes. If only that 59,000,000 could vote, America would straighten out real quickly.

  18. just saying

    So you want the 74 million under age 17 to pay taxes? (They are part of that 300,000,000 figure you quote).
    And I’m guessing a sizable portion of the 38 million over age 65 don’t have a whole lot of income to claim. I guess we can take their votes and make them live in homeless shelters (go free market go!)
    Less facetiously, I assume you probably are against college students still supported by their parents voting(a fraction of another 29 million from ages 18 to 24 that I haven’t mentioned yet) since they’re probably all corrupted by those darn ivory tower types?

  19. Lee Muller

    I opposed lowering the voting age to 18, which was just a ruse by Democrats who could no longer muster more than 30% of the adult vote.
    What we have today obviously is a subversion of what the Founding Fathers intended, and what they predicted would happen – a majority with a deadbeat mentality cheering for demagogues who promise an ever larger pile of handout goodies.

  20. Lee Muller

    Brad, have you read any of Obama’s MEIN KAMPF?
    If you ever read Obama’s book, I would like to hear your response to all anti-American vitrol and his entire life being influenced by Marxists and Afro-centrists who hate whites.

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