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Jane Dailey
White Fright: The Sexual Panic at the Heart of America’s Racist History
Basic, 2020



Placing sex at the center of our civil rights history, White Fright offers a bold new take on one of the most confounding threads running through American history. Jane Dailey examines how white anxiety about interracial sex and marriage found expression in some of the most contentious episodes of American history since Reconstruction: in battles over lynching, in the policing of black troops' behavior overseas during World War II, in the violent outbursts following the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, and in the tragic murder of Emmett Till. Reviewer Nell Irvin Painter notes, “Jane Dailey skillfully untangles the purposefully snarled concepts of sex, marriage, and politics at the foundation of the White supremacist American political economy that followed Reconstruction. More than a century and a half later, such gut-level concepts underlie our current politics, making White Fright essential reading right now. As Dailey shows, the history of anti-Blackness is White history."

Watch Jane Dailey talk about White Fright on “Chicago Tonight”!

“To understand the true virulence of white supremacy in America, and to grasp just how hard won the fights against it have been, one must reckon with the extent to which racist laws and actions have always, in fact, been fueled by white obsessions about sex. Jane Dailey's latest, a most powerful recovery of this insidious history, must be read by all.”
Heather Ann Thompson,
Pulitzer Prize-Winning author of
Blood in the Water



Jane Dailey is an associate professor in History, the College, and the Law School at the University of Chicago. A recipient of fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin and the Guggenheim Foundation, she is also the author and coauthor of several previous books, including Before Jim Crow and Building the American Republic. Her work has revolved around the relationship between race, sex, and politics in the post-Emancipation South. 

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