From acclaimed columnist and political commentator Michael Harriot, a searingly smart and bitingly hilarious retelling of American history that corrects the record and showcases the perspectives and experiences of Black Americans.
America’s backstory is a whitewashed mythology implanted in our collective memory. It is the story of the pilgrims on the Mayflower building a new nation. It is George Washington’s cherry tree and Abraham Lincoln’s log cabin. It is the fantastic tale of slaves that spontaneously teleported themselves here with nothing but strong backs and negro spirituals. It is a sugarcoated legend based on an almost true story.
It should come as no surprise that the dominant narrative of American history is blighted with errors and oversights—after all, history books were written by white men with their perspectives at the forefront. It could even be said that the devaluation and erasure of the Black experience is as American as apple pie.
In Black AF History, Michael Harriot presents a more accurate version of American history. Combining unapologetically provocative storytelling with meticulous research based on primary sources as well as the work of pioneering Black historians, scholars, and journalists, Harriot removes the white sugarcoating from the American story, placing Black people squarely at the center. With incisive wit, Harriot speaks hilarious truth to oppressive power, subverting conventional historical narratives with little-known stories about the experiences of Black Americans. From the African Americans who arrived before 1619 to the unenslavable bandit who inspired America’s first police force, this long overdue corrective provides a revealing look into our past that is as urgent as it is necessary. For too long, we have refused to acknowledge that American history is white history. Not this one. This history is Black AF.
Michael Harriot is a columnist at theGrio.com where he covers the intersection of race, politics, and culture. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Atlantic, NBC, BET, and on his mother’s refrigerator. He is a political commentator on MSNBC and CNN and has been honored by the National Association of Black Journalists for commentary, digital commentary, and TV news writing. Michael is the creator and cohost of the podcast Drapetomaniax: Unshackled History, produced in partnership with Pharrel's OTHERtone. His college course “Race: An Economic Construct” was adapted by university economics departments across the country as a model for teaching the combination of history, economics, politics, and class structures.
“A razor-sharp reassessment of American history. . . . Entertainingly colloquial and impressively erudite, this meticulous survey of the American past is an invaluable resource.” -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
'Fresh eyes and bold, entertaining language combine in this authoritative, essential work of U.S. history.' -- Kirkus Reviews
“A stirring correction of U.S. history. . . . Emphasizing Black survival and resistance, Harriot simplifies complex issues into easily understandable, digestible bites. . . . With blunt, entertaining, irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes laugh-out-loud statements, Harriot provocatively explains how the United States came to be and how money-focused, self-serving intentions made it what it is today.” -- Library Journal
“Michael Harriot has done it. Written a book that evokes the full range of human emotions. Laughter. Rage. Sadness. Love (of Black resistance). Hate (of anti-Blackness). More laughter. Constant thinking and connecting and discovering. What an experience. But how can this book be anything less when it is Black AF History.” -- Ibram X. Kendi, Award-winning author
“This is history as it should be told: straight, no chaser; unvarnished and unembossed. Michael Harriot, the Samuel L. Jackson of the written word, strikes again, weaving fascinating facts, scathing humor and pieces of his own life story to detail the stony road we trod.” -- Joy Reid, Host of The ReidOut on MSNBC
[H] Dey Street Books / September 19, 2023
1.57" H x 9.06" L x 5.98" W (1.36 lbs) 432 pages