A Rap on Race

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A Rap on Race
First edition
AuthorJames Baldwin, Margaret Mead
CountryUnited States
PublisherJ. B. Lippincott
Publication date
Media typePrint

A Rap on Race is a 1971 non-fiction book co-authored by writer and social critic James Baldwin and anthropologist Margaret Mead. It consists of transcripts of conversations between the two.


The transcript mentions "New Guinea, South Africa, Women's Lib, the South, slavery, Christianity, their early childhood upbringings, Israel, the Arabs, the bomb, Paris, Istanbul, the English language, Huey Newton, John Wayne, the black bourgeoisie, Baldwin's 2-year-old grand nephew and Professor Mead's daughter."[1]

Literary significance and criticism[edit]

The book was dismissed as "the same old bilge you've heard from the fellow on the next stool to you in the saloon " by a reviewer at The New York Times when it was first published.[1] More recently, writer Maria Popova called the book "a remarkable and prescient piece of the cultural record" and "a bittersweet testament to one of the recurring themes in their dialogue — our tendency to sideline the past as impertinent to the present, only to rediscover how central it is in understanding the driving forces of our world and harnessing them toward a better future." [2]


  1. ^ a b Elman, Richard (June 27, 1971). "A Rap on Race". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Maria Popova, "A Rap on Race: Margaret Mead and James Baldwin’s Rare Conversation on Forgiveness and the Difference Between Guilt and Responsibility", Brain Pickings, March 19, 2015.