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October 23, 1996

No Dancin' in Anson: An American Story of Race and Social Change

Author Affiliations

University of Illinois College of Medicine Chicago

JAMA. 1996;276(16):1352. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540160074040

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This refreshingly candid, easy to read little book seeks to explain issues, ie, the psychologies, underlying ethnic difference and racial prejudice, dynamics that ameliorate or worsen the social impact of America's increasing racial diversity. Dr Ainslie teaches his valuable lessons by telling the story of Anson, Texas, and its social and legal struggle over whether the town should allow a high school prom with dancing.

The controversy is presented as a "symptom" of an underlying conflict over the changes Anson endured from the legal death of segregation and resultant increase in the ethnic composition of the population from 12% to 35%. Using this social stage, the author tells stories of individuals and families, thereby delving into the individual and collective psyches of the participants—insiders and outsiders—in the right-to-dance conflict, thus crystalizing the psychodynamics of "otherness." The book is an interesting mixture of sociology and psychoanalysis, intermingling an ethnographic approach with