Review: Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet (NY: Routledge) 2002
There’s a story behind this essay. David Silver, who runs the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies, requested that I review Nakamura’s book for RCCS. I’d reviewed a couple of books for Silver before, and we were on friendly terms. I agreed, but the review was more negative than he expected. He at first agreed to publish it with a couple of revisions. I made them and resubmitted. Then Silver reversed himself at the last minute. I finally withdrew the essay when he requested yet another revision, with very fuzzy parameters, and no assurance that it would be accepted even then. He doubtless has his own explanation for the rejection, but I think it was a failure of nerve—this is sure to be a controversial piece and not everybody likes to take heat. The result, however, is that RCCS doesn’t feature a single review of Cybertypes by a scholar with credentials in African American studies. It’s business as usual, though, since RCCS, and its parent field, “cyberculture” criticism barely acknowledges the existence of African Americans, or the centrality of African American critical theory to any examination of race in the United States. “Eruptions of funk,” like this essay, are seen as disruptions of white business as usual. The level of critique that antiracism requires is labelled “too personal,” “unkind,” and “unprofessional”—all code words for raced exclusion.