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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 174

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do is a nonfiction book by Claude M. Steele, PhD. The book was first published in 2010. The overall theme and main thesis of the book is the detrimental effects of racial and socioeconomic-based stereotypes. The book was published during the Obama administration, which some white liberal intellectuals falsely claimed marked the "post-racial society" in America. The case studies and anecdotes in Whistling Vivaldi shatters this false presumption.

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In fact, the title itself stemmed from one of the prominent stories featured in the book. It is the story of graduate student Brent Staples—who is now a staff writer for the New York Times—and how he was perceived by white neighbors in Chicago as a stereotypical violent young black male. However, when Brent began to whistle a tune by Vivaldi, the perception of his white neighbors changed to a positive one. The larger or general theme of the book is the mechanisms of human psychology, and why or how stereotypes and prejudiced are conceived.

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