Editor’s Note: How Jack Became Black is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and at other outlets.
The entire notion of identity politics — of appearance and tribe being essential rather than incidental to our characters — is coming under new reexamination in the post-Obama era. In this regard, there is a fascinating new documentary on race, identity, and the state by the filmmaker Eli Steele (son of Shelby Steele) on the paradoxes and contradictions of the Kafkaesque race industry. What started with his son’s being denied enrollment at the local school for dad Eli’s unwillingness to check off the proper ethnic boxes (for the tribally obsessed, his son is African American, Native American, Mexican American, and Jewish) culminated in a wonderful documentary, How Jack Became Black. It is a fascinating (and disturbing) exploration of the contemporary subordination of the individual to careerist bureaucracies and anti-humanist orthodoxies.