Abandoning the Black Hero is the first book to examine the postwar African American white-life novel—novels with white protagonists written by African Americans. These fascinating works have been understudied despite having been written by such defining figures in the tradition as Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Ann Petry, and Chester Himes, as well as lesser known but formerly best-selling authors Willard Motley and Frank Yerby.
John C. Charles argues that these fictions have been overlooked because they deviate from two critical suppositions: that black literature is always about black life and that when it represents whiteness, it must attack white supremacy. The authors are, however, quite sympathetic in the treatment of their white protagonists, which Charles contends should be read not as a failure of racial pride but instead as a strategy for claiming creative freedom, expansive moral authority, and critical agency.
In an era when “Negro writers” were expected to protest, their sympathetic treatment of white suffering grants these authors a degree of racial privacy previously unavailable to them. White writers, after all, have the privilege of racial privacy because they are never pressured to write only about white life. Charles reveals that the freedom to abandon the “Negro problem” encouraged these authors to explore a range of new genres and themes, generating a strikingly diverse body of novels that significantly revise our understanding of mid-twentieth-century black writing.
As the first African-American fiction writer to achieve a national reputation, Ohio native Charles W. Chesnutt (1858–1932) in many ways established the terms of the black literary tradition now exemplified by such writers as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Charles Johnson.
Following the highly autobiographical nonfiction produced by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and other slave narrative writers, Chesnutt’s complex, multi-layered short fiction transformed the relationship between African-American writers and their readers. But despite generous praise from W. D. Howells and other important critics of his day, and from such prominent readers as William L. Andrews, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Eric Sundquist in ours, Chesnutt occupies a curiously ambiguous place in American literary history.
In The Absent Man, Charles Duncan demonstrates that Chesnutt’s uneasy position in the American literary tradition can be traced to his remarkable narrative subtlety. Profoundly aware of the delicacy of his situation as a black intellectual at the turn of the century, Chesnutt infused his work with an intricate, enigmatic artistic vision that defies monolithic or unambiguously political interpretation, especially with regard to issues of race and identity that preoccupied him throughout his career.
In this first book-length study of the innovative short fiction, Duncan devotes particular attention to elucidating these sophisticated narrative strategies as the grounding for Chesnutt’s inauguration of a tradition of African-American fiction.
Activist Sentiments takes as its subject women who in fewer than fifty years moved from near literary invisibility to prolific productivity. Grounded in primary research and paying close attention to the historical archive, this book offers against-the-grain readings of the literary and activist work of Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Wilson, Frances E. W. Harper, Victoria Earle Matthews and Amelia E. Johnson.
Part literary criticism and part cultural history, Activist Sentiments examines nineteenth-century social, political, and representational literacies and reading practices. P. Gabrielle Foreman reveals how Black women's complex and confrontational commentary–often expressed directly in their journalistic prose and organizational involvement--emerges in their sentimental, and simultaneously political, literary production.
Architecture is often thought to be a diary of a society, filled with symbolic representations of specific cultural moments. However, as Craig L. Wilkins observes, that diary includes far too few narratives of the diverse cultures in U.S. society. Wilkins states that the discipline of architecture has a resistance to African Americans at every level, from the startlingly small number of architecture students to the paltry number of registered architects in the United States today.
Working to understand how ideologies are formed, transmitted, and embedded in the built environment, Wilkins deconstructs how the marginalization of African Americans is authorized within the field of architecture. He then outlines how activist forms of expression shape and sustain communities, fashioning an architectural theory around the site of environmental conflict constructed by hip-hop culture.
Wilkins places his concerns in a historical context, and also offers practical solutions to address them. In doing so, he reveals new possibilities for an architecture that acknowledges its current shortcomings and replies to the needs of multicultural constituencies.
Craig L. Wilkins, a registered architect, teaches architecture and urban planning at the University of Michigan.
Ranging from seventeenth-century West African fare to contemporary fusion dishes using soul food ingredients, the essays in this book provide an introduction to many aspects of African American foodways and an antidote to popular misconceptions about soul food. Examining the combination of African, Caribbean, and South American traditions, the volume's contributors offer lively insights from history, literature, sociology, anthropology, and African American studies to demonstrate how food's material and symbolic values have contributed to African Americans' identity for centuries. Individual chapters examine how African foodways survived the passage into slavery, cultural meanings associated with African American foodways, and the contents of African American cookbooks, both early and recent.
Contributors are Anne L. Bower, Robert L. Hall, William C. Whit, Psyche Williams-Forson, Doris Witt, Anne Yentsch, Rafia Zafar.
The contributors construct a historical portrait of black fraternal orders during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They argue that African Americans were more likely than whites to form fraternal orders and to sustain them, using them to guard members against unemployment and other misfortunes. They examine the ritual life of fraternal organizations, paying particular attention to rites of initiation and to the values they reflected about collective identity, gender relations, equality, and collective action. Finally, they show how social networks that black fraternal organizations fostered led to successful legal battles for the right to assemble and to the later civil rights movement of the twentieth century.
Contributors. Bayliss J. Camp, Marshall Ganz, Orit Kent, Ariane Liazos, Jennifer Lynn Oser, Theda Skocpol, Joe W. Trotter
This groundbreaking volume establishes new perspectives on black history--its scholarship and pedagogy, scholars and interpreters, and evolution as a profession.
Pero Gaglo Dagbovie discusses a wide range of issues and themes for understanding and analyzing African American history, the twentieth century black historical enterprise, and the teaching of African American history for the twenty-first century. Additional topics include the hip-hop generation's relationship to and interpretations of African American history; past, present, and future approaches to the subject; and the social construct of knowledge in African American historiography. An examination of definitions of black history from W. E. B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk and a survey of early black women historians lend further dimension and authenticity to the volume. A bold contribution to the growing fields of African American historiography and the philosophy of black history, African American History Reconsidered offers numerous analytical frameworks for understanding and delving into a variety of dimensions of the African American historical experience.
Starting at the turn of the century, most African American midwives in the South were gradually excluded from reproductive health care. Gertrude Fraser shows how physicians, public health personnel, and state legislators mounted a campaign ostensibly to improve maternal and infant health, especially in rural areas. They brought traditional midwives under the control of a supervisory body, and eventually eliminated them. In the writings and programs produced by these physicians and public health officials, Fraser finds a universe of ideas about race, gender, the relationship of medicine to society, and the status of the South in the national political and social economies.Fraser also studies this experience through dialogues of memory. She interviews members of a rural Virginia African American community that included not just retired midwives and their descendants, but anyone who lived through this transformation in medical care--especially the women who gave birth at home attended by a midwife. She compares these narrations to those in contemporary medical journals and public health materials, discovering contradictions and ambivalence: was the midwife a figure of shame or pride? How did one distance oneself from what was now considered "superstitious" or "backward" and at the same time acknowledge and show pride in the former unquestioned authority of these beliefs and practices?In an important contribution to African American studies and anthropology, African American Midwifery in the South brings new voices to the discourse on the hidden world of midwives and birthing.
While stories of organized crime most often dwell on groups like the Mafia and Chinese Triad or Tongs, African Americans also have a long history of organized crime. Why have scholars and journalists paid so little attention to African American organized crime? What can a history of these criminal networks teach us about the social, political, and economic challenges that face African Americans today? What is specific to African American organized crime, and how do these networks differ from the criminal organizations of other racial and ethnic groups? How can a historical study of African American organized crime enrich our understanding of all criminal activity?
Rufus Schatzberg and Robert Kelly take us through almost a century of African American organized crime. Chapters focus on the numbers gambling that took place in New York City from 1920 to 1940, the criminal groups that operated in ghettos from the 1940s to the 1970s, and the gang activities that began in the 1970s and continues today. While providing a compelling analysis of African American organized crime, the authors also challenge existing stereotypes of African Americans and demonstrate the importance of studying any criminal activity within its historical and social context.
Historians have devoted surprisingly little attention to African American urban history ofthe postwar period, especially compared with earlier decades. Correcting this imbalance, African American Urban History since World War II features an exciting mix of seasoned scholars and fresh new voices whose combined efforts provide the first comprehensive assessment of this important subject.
The first of this volume’s five groundbreaking sections focuses on black migration and Latino immigration, examining tensions and alliances that emerged between African Americans and other groups. Exploring the challenges of residential segregation and deindustrialization, later sections tackle such topics as the real estate industry’s discriminatory practices, the movement of middle-class blacks to the suburbs, and the influence of black urban activists on national employment and social welfare policies. Another group of contributors examines these themes through the lens of gender, chronicling deindustrialization’s disproportionate impact on women and women’s leading roles in movements for social change. Concluding with a set of essays on black culture and consumption, this volume fully realizes its goal of linking local transformations with the national and global processes that affect urban class and race relations.
Selected as a "New Jersey Notable Book for 1995-2005" by the New Jersey Center for the Book
Awarded the 2004 Certificate of Commendation by the American Association for State and Local History
African American Women Writers in New Jersey, 1836-2000 is the first and only reference book to identify and document the lives, intellectual contributions, and publications of over one hundred African American women writers in the Garden State from 1836 through 2000. Many, such as Jessie Redmon Fauset, Alice Perry Johnson, Sharon Bell Mathis, Ntozake Shange, Claudia C. Tate, Ruby Ora Williams, and Marion Thompson Wright, were born in the state. Others, like Amina Baraka, E. Alma Flagg, Helen Jackson Lee, Gertrude Williams Pitts, and Dorothy Porter Wesley, although not born there, were residents of New Jersey for more than fifteen years, and made significant contributions during that time.
This volume contains biographical and bibliographical information for each author. There are photographs of the writers as well as citations for their published pamphlets, books, reports, and articles. Sibyl E. Moses has enhanced the text with characteristic excerpts from the poetry and prose of selected writers. The two appendixes highlight the distribution of African American women writers in New Jersey both by city or town, and by genre.
In 1993 distinguished historian Nancy L. Grant organized "Blacks and Jews: An American Historical Perspective," a conference held at Washington University in St. Louis and dedicated to the exploration of Black-Jewish relations in twentieth-century America. Featuring presentations by historians, sociologists, and political scientists, this conference reflected Grant's devotion to scholarship on multicultural relations and the continuing struggle for racial equality in the United States. After Grant's untimely death in 1995, V. P. Franklin and the other contributors completed the work of readying these essays for publication with the assistance of the coeditors. African Americans and Jews in the Twentieth Century is the culmination of the innovative research and ideas presented at the conference.
In the long struggle to bring social justice to American society, Blacks and Jews have often been close allies. In both the past and the present, however, there has also been serious conflict and competition between the groups in social, economic, and political spheres.
Focusing on the complexity of the relationships between Blacks and Jews in America, these essays examine the convergence and conflict that have characterized Black-Jewish interactions over the past century. African Americans and Jews in the Twentieth Century provides an intellectual foundation for continued dialogue and future cooperative efforts to improve social justice in this society and will be an invaluable resource for the study of race relations in the United States in the twentieth century.
Focusing on the intersection of African Americans' nineteenth-century cultural values and the changing social and political conditions in the first half of the twentieth century, Jelks pays particularly close attention to the religious community's influence during their struggle toward a respectable social identity and fair treatment under the law. He explores how these competing values defined the community's politics as it struggled to expand its freedoms and change its status as a subjugated racial minority.
Groundbreaking and critical, African Americans in U.S. Foreign Policy expands on the scope and themes of recent collections to offer the most up-to-date scholarship to students in a range of disciplines, including U.S. and African American history, Africana studies, political science, and American studies.
During the early national and antebellum eras, black leaders in New York City confronted the tenuous nature of Northern emancipation. Despite the hope of freedom, black New Yorkers faced a series of sociopolitical issues including the persistence of Southern slavery, the threat of forced removal, racial violence, and the denial of American citizenship. Even efforts to create community space within the urban landscape, such as the African Burial Ground and Seneca Village, were eventually demolished to make way for the city's rapid development. In this illuminating history, Leslie M. Alexander chronicles the growth and development of black activism in New York from the formation of the first black organization, the African Society, in 1784 to the eve of the Civil War in 1861. In this critical period, black activists sought to formulate an effective response to their unequal freedom. Examining black newspapers, speeches, and organizational records, this study documents the creation of mutual relief, religious, and political associations, which black men and women infused with African cultural traditions and values.
As Alexander reveals, conflicts over early black political strategy foreshadowed critical ideological struggles that would bedevil the black leadership for generations to come. Initially, black leaders advocated racial uplift through a sense of communalism and connection to their African heritage. Yet by the antebellum era, black activists struggled to reconcile their African identity with a growing desire to gain American citizenship. Ultimately, this battle resulted in competing agendas; while some leaders argued that the black community should dedicate themselves to moral improvement and American citizenship, others began to consider emigrating to Africa or Haiti. In the end, the black leadership resolved to assert an American identity and to expand their mission for full equality and citizenship in the United States. This decision marked a crucial turning point in black political strategy, for it signaled a new phase in the quest for racial advancement and fostered the creation of a nascent Black Nationalism.
As Africana Studies celebrates its fiftieth anniversary throughout the United States, this invigor ating collection presents possibilities for the future of the discipline’s theoretical paths. The essays in Africana Studies focus on philosophy, science, and technology; poetry, literature, and music; the crisis of the state; issues of colonialism, globalization, and neoliberalism; and the ever-expanding diaspora. The editor and contributors to this volume open exciting avenues for new narratives, philosophies, vision, and scale in this critical field of study—formed during the 1960s around issues of racial injustice in America—to show what Africana Studies is already in the process of becoming.
Africana Studies recognizes how the discipline has been shaped, changing over the decades as scholars have opened new modes of theoretical engagement such as addressing issues of gender and sexuality, politics, and cultural studies. The essays debate and (re)consider black and diasporic life to sustain, provoke, and cultivate Africana Studies as a singular yet polyvalent mode of thinking.
Contributors: Akin Adeṣọkan, John E. Drabinski, Zeyad El Nabolsy, Pierre-Philippe Fraiture, Kasareka Kavwahirehi, Gregory Pardlo, Radwa Saad, Sarah Then Bergh, and the editor
One essay reveals the intricate richness of Africana thought, moving through psychoanalysis, folktales, Western metaphysics, and a critique of the political. Another essay offers a cautionary tale about the prospects for black life in the United States, even in the wake of Barack Obama’s historic political victory. A third essay argues that a “dead zone”—a place where black lives are lost, where hopes are dashed, where history has failed the black subject—exists between the black elite and the disenfranchised black underclass. Still another essay addresses how the discourse about the political has triumphed over everything else in considerations of colonialism and its aftermath and proposes that a turn to culture might offer a new thinking of black futures.
Since its founding, Nashville has been a center of black urban culture in the Upper South. Blacks—slave and free—made up 20 percent of Fort Nashborough’s settlers in 1779. From these early years through the Civil War, a growing black community in Nashville, led by a small group of black elites, quietly built the foundations of a future society, developing schools, churches, and businesses. The Civil War brought new freedoms and challenges as the black population of Nashville increased and as black elites found themselves able—even obliged—to act more openly. To establish a more stable and prosperous African-American community, the elites found that they had to work within a system bound to the interests of whites. But the aims of this elite did not always coincide with those of the black community at large. By 1930, younger blacks, in particular, were moving towards protest and confrontation. As democratization and higher education spread, the lines distinguishing Nashville’s black elite became blurred.
Bobby L. Lovett presents a complex analysis of black experience in Nashville during the years between 1780 and 1930, exploring the impact of civil rights, education, politics, religion, business, and neighborhood development on a particular African-American community. This study of black Nashville examines lives lived within a web of shifting alliances and interests—the choices made, the difficulties overcome.
Fifteen years in the making, illustrated with maps and photographs, this work is the first detailed study of any of Tennessee’s major urban black communities. Lovett here collects, organizes, and interprets a large, rich body of data, making this material newly accessible to all interested in the black urban experience.
Once in office, African-American mayors faced vexing challenges. In large and small cities from the Sunbelt to the Rustbelt, black mayors assumed office during economic downturns and confronted the intractable problems of decaying inner cities, white flight, a dwindling tax base, violent crime, and diminishing federal support for social programs. Many encountered hostility from their own parties, city councils, and police departments; others worked against long-established power structures dominated by local business owners or politicians. Still others, while trying to respond to multiple demands from a diverse constituency, were viewed as traitors by blacks expecting special attention from a leader of their own race. All struggled with the contradictory mandate of meeting the increasing needs of poor inner-city residents while keeping white businesses from fleeing to the suburbs.
This is the first comprehensive treatment of the complex phenomenon of African-American mayors in the nation's major urban centers. Offering a diverse portrait of leadership, conflict, and almost insurmountable obstacles, this volume assesses the political alliances that brought black mayors to office as well as their accomplishments--notably, increased minority hiring and funding for minority businesses--and the challenges that marked their careers. Mayors profiled include Carl B. Stokes (Cleveland), Richard G. Hatcher (Gary), "Dutch" Morial (New Orleans), Harold Washington (Chicago), Tom Bradley (Los Angeles), Marion Barry (Washington, D.C.), David Dinkins (New York City), Coleman Young (Detroit), and a succession of black mayors in Atlanta (Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, and Bill Campbell).Probing the elusive economic dimension of black power, African-American Mayors demonstrates how the same circumstances that set the stage for the victories of black mayors exaggerated the obstacles they faced.
"We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us." These words are from the front page of Freedom's Journal, the first African-American newspaper published in the United States, in 1827, a milestone event in the history of an oppressed people. From then on a prodigious and hitherto almost unknown cascade of newspapers, magazines, letters, and other literary, historical, and popular writing poured from presses chronicling black life in America.The authentic voice of African-American culture is captured in this first comprehensive guide to a treasure trove of writings by and for a people, as found in sources in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. This bibliography of over 6,000 entries is the indispensable guide to the stories of slavery, freedom, Jim Crow, segregation, liberation, struggle, and triumph.Besides describing many new discoveries--from church documents to early civil rights ephemera, from school records to single-mother newsletters, from artists' journals to labor publications--this work informs researchers where and how to find them (for example, through online databases, microfilm, or traditional catalogs).
Afro Asia opens with analyses of historical connections between people of African and of Asian descent. An account of nineteenth-century Chinese laborers who fought against slavery and colonialism in Cuba appears alongside an exploration of African Americans’ reactions to and experiences of the Korean “conflict.” Contributors examine the fertile period of Afro-Asian exchange that began around the time of the 1955 Bandung Conference, the first meeting of leaders from Asian and African nations in the postcolonial era. One assesses the relationship of two important 1960s Asian American activists to Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. Mao Ze Dong’s 1963 and 1968 statements in support of black liberation are juxtaposed with an overview of the influence of Maoism on African American leftists.
Turning to the arts, Ishmael Reed provides a brief account of how he met and helped several Asian American writers. A Vietnamese American spoken-word artist describes the impact of black hip-hop culture on working-class urban Asian American youth. Fred Ho interviews Bill Cole, an African American jazz musician who plays Asian double-reed instruments. This pioneering collection closes with an array of creative writing, including poetry, memoir, and a dialogue about identity and friendship that two writers, one Japanese American and the other African American, have performed around the United States.
Contributors: Betsy Esch, Diane C. Fujino, royal hartigan, Kim Hewitt, Cheryl Higashida, Fred Ho,Everett Hoagland, Robin D. G. Kelley, Bill V. Mullen, David Mura, Ishle Park, Alexs Pate, Thien-bao Thuc Phi, Ishmael Reed, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Maya Almachar Santos, JoYin C. Shih, Ron Wheeler, Daniel Widener, Lisa Yun
Contributors. Ron Eglash, Anna Everett, Tana Hargest, Nalo Hopkinson, Tracie Morris, Alondra Nelson, Kalí Tal, Fatimah Tuggar, Alexander G. WeheliyeAlondra Nelson is a Ph.D. candidate in the American Studies Program at New York University and is the Ann Plato Fellow at Trinity College. She will begin teaching in the African American Studies and Sociology Departments at Yale University in the fall of 2002.
Contributors. Ron Eglash, Anna Everett, Tana Hargest, Nalo Hopkinson, Alondra Nelson, Tracie Morris, Kali Tal, Fatimah Tuggar, Alexander G. Weheliye
While the selections cover centuries of Afro-Latin@ history, since the arrival of Spanish-speaking Africans in North America in the mid-sixteenth-century, most of them focus on the past fifty years. The central question of how Afro-Latin@s relate to and experience U.S. and Latin American racial ideologies is engaged throughout, in first-person accounts of growing up Afro-Latin@, a classic essay by a leader of the Young Lords, and analyses of U.S. census data on race and ethnicity, as well as in pieces on gender and sexuality, major-league baseball, and religion. The contributions that Afro-Latin@s have made to U.S. culture are highlighted in essays on the illustrious Afro-Puerto Rican bibliophile Arturo Alfonso Schomburg and music and dance genres from salsa to mambo, and from boogaloo to hip hop. Taken together, these and many more selections help to bring Afro-Latin@s in the United States into critical view.
Contributors: Afro–Puerto Rican Testimonies Project, Josefina Baéz, Ejima Baker, Luis Barrios, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Adrian Burgos Jr., Ginetta E. B. Candelario, Adrián Castro, Jesús Colón, Marta I. Cruz-Janzen, William A. Darity Jr., Milca Esdaille, Sandra María Esteves, María Teresa Fernández (Mariposa), Carlos Flores, Juan Flores, Jack D. Forbes, David F. Garcia, Ruth Glasser, Virginia Meecham Gould, Susan D. Greenbaum, Evelio Grillo, Pablo “Yoruba” Guzmán, Gabriel Haslip-Viera, Tanya K. Hernández, Victor Hernández Cruz, Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, Lisa Hoppenjans, Vielka Cecilia Hoy, Alan J. Hughes, María Rosario Jackson, James Jennings, Miriam Jiménez Román, Angela Jorge, David Lamb, Aida Lambert, Ana M. Lara, Evelyne Laurent-Perrault, Tato Laviera, John Logan, Antonio López, Felipe Luciano, Louis Pancho McFarland, Ryan Mann-Hamilton, Wayne Marshall, Marianela Medrano, Nancy Raquel Mirabal, Yvette Modestin, Ed Morales, Jairo Moreno, Marta Moreno Vega, Willie Perdomo, Graciela Pérez Gutiérrez, Sofia Quintero, Ted Richardson, Louis Reyes Rivera, Pedro R. Rivera , Raquel Z. Rivera, Yeidy Rivero, Mark Q. Sawyer, Piri Thomas, Silvio Torres-Saillant, Nilaja Sun, Sherezada “Chiqui” Vicioso, Peter H. Wood
Badia Ahad-Legardy mines literature, visual culture, performance, and culinary arts to form an archive of black historical joy for use by the African-descended. Her analysis reveals how contemporary black artists find more than trauma and subjugation within the historical past. Drawing on contemporary African American culture and recent psychological studies, she reveals nostalgia’s capacity to produce positive emotions. Afro-nostalgia emerges as an expression of black romantic recollection that creates and inspires good feelings even within our darkest moments.
Original and provocative, Afro-Nostalgia offers black historical pleasure as a remedy to contend with the disillusionment of the present and the traumas of the past.
Abdur-Rahman brings black feminist, psychoanalytic, critical race, and poststructuralist theories to bear on literary genres from slave narratives to science fiction. Analyzing works by African American writers, including Frederick Douglass, Pauline Hopkins, Harriet Jacobs, James Baldwin, and Octavia Butler, she shows how literary representations of transgressive sexuality expressed the longings of African Americans for individual and collective freedom. Abdur-Rahman contends that those representations were fundamental to the development of African American forms of literary expression and modes of political intervention and cultural self-fashioning.
Though the activities of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were unified in their common idea of resistance to oppression, these groups fought their battles on multiple fronts. The NAACP filed lawsuits and aggressively lobbied Congress and state legislatures, while Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC challenged the racial status quo through nonviolent mass action, and the SNCC focused on community empowerment activities. In Agitations, Kevin Anderson studies these various activities in order to trace the ideological foundations of these groups and to understand how diversity among African Americans created multiple political strategies.
Agitations goes beyond the traditionally acknowledged divide between integrationist and accommodationist wings of African American politics to explore the diverse fundamental ideologies and strategic outcomes among African American activists that still define, influence, and complicate political life today.
Perceptive and original, Ain’t I an Anthropologist is an overdue reassessment of Zora Neale Hurston’s place in American cultural and intellectual life.
Langston Hughes called it "a great dark tide from the South": the unprecedented influx of blacks into Cleveland that gave the city the nickname "Alabama North." Kimberley L. Phillips reveals the breadth of working class black experiences and activities in Cleveland and the extent to which these were shaped by traditions and values brought from the South.
Migrants' moves north established complex networks of kin and friends and infused Cleveland with a highly visible southern African American culture. Phillips examines the variety of black fraternal, benevolent, social, and church-based organizations that working class migrants created and demonstrates how these groups prepared the way for new forms of individual and collective activism in workplaces and the city. Giving special consideration to the experiences of working class black women, AlabamaNorth reveals how migrants' expressions of tradition and community gave them a new consciousness of themselves as organized workers and created the underpinning for new forms of black labor activism.
In this significant recovery project, Elizabeth Schroeder Schlabach investigates the institutions and streetscapes of Black Chicago that fueled an entire literary and artistic movement. She argues that African American authors and artists--such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, painter Archibald Motley, and many others--viewed and presented black reality from a specific geographic vantage point: the view along the streets of Bronzeville. Schlabach explores how the particular rhythms and scenes of daily life in Bronzeville locations, such as the State Street "Stroll" district or the bustling intersection of 47th Street and South Parkway, figured into the creative works and experiences of the artists and writers of the Black Chicago Renaissance. She also covers in detail the South Side Community Art Center and the South Side Writers' Group, two institutions of art and literature that engendered a unique aesthetic consciousness and political ideology for which the Black Chicago Renaissance would garner much fame.
Life in Bronzeville also involved economic hardship and social injustice, themes that resonated throughout the flourishing arts scene. Schlabach explores Bronzeville's harsh living conditions, exemplified in the cramped one-bedroom kitchenette apartments that housed many of the migrants drawn to the city's promises of opportunity and freedom. Many struggled with the precariousness of urban life, and Schlabach shows how the once vibrant neighborhood eventually succumbed to the pressures of segregation and economic disparity. Providing a virtual tour South Side African American urban life at street level, Along the Streets of Bronzeville charts the complex interplay and intersection of race, geography, and cultural criticism during the Black Chicago Renaissance's rise and fall.
Despite being heralded as the answer to racial conflict in the post–civil rights United States, the principal political effect of multiracialism is neither a challenge to the ideology of white supremacy nor a defiance of sexual racism. More accurately, Jared Sexton argues in Amalgamation Schemes, multiculturalism displaces both by evoking long-standing tenets of antiblackness and prescriptions for normative sexuality.
In this timely and penetrating analysis, Sexton pursues a critique of contemporary multiracialism, from the splintered political initiatives of the multiracial movement to the academic field of multiracial studies, to the melodramatic media declarations about “the browning of America.” He contests the rationales of colorblindness and multiracial exceptionalism and the promotion of a repackaged family values platform in order to demonstrate that the true target of multiracialism is the singularity of blackness as a social identity, a political organizing principle, and an object of desire. From this vantage, Sexton interrogates the trivialization of sexual violence under chattel slavery and the convoluted relationship between racial and sexual politics in the new multiracial consciousness.
An original and challenging intervention, Amalgamation Schemes posits that multiracialism stems from the conservative and reactionary forces determined to undo the gains of the modern civil rights movement and dismantle radical black and feminist politics.
Jared Sexton is assistant professor of African American studies and film and media studies at the University of California, Irvine.
1992 Myers Center Outstanding Book on Human Rights
Historians have produced scores of studies on white men, extraordinary white women, and even the often anonymous mass of enslaved Black people in the United States. But in this innovative work, Adele Logan Alexander chronicles there heretofore undocumented dilemmas of one of nineteenth-century America’s most marginalized groups—free women of color in the rural South.
Ambiguous Lives focuses on the women of Alexander’s own family as representative of this subcaste of the African-American community. Their forbears, in fact, included Africans, Native Americans, and whites. Neither black nor white, affluent nor impoverished, enslaved nor truly free, these women of color lived and died in a shadowy realm situated somewhere between the legal, social, and economic extremes of empowered whites and subjugated blacks. Yet, as Alexander persuasively argues, these lives are worthy of attention precisely because of these ambiguities—because the intricacies, gradations, and subtleties of their anomalous experience became part of the tangled skein of American history and exemplify our country’s endless diversity, complexity, and self-contradictions.
Written as a “reclamation” of a long-ignored substratum of our society, Ambiguous Lives is more than the story of one family—it is a well-researched and fascinating profile of America, its race and gender relations, and its complex cultural weave.
This powerful and disturbing book clearly links persistent poverty among blacks in the United States to the unparalleled degree of deliberate segregation they experience in American cities.American Apartheid shows how the black ghetto was created by whites during the first half of the twentieth century in order to isolate growing urban black populations. It goes on to show that, despite the Fair Housing Act of 1968, segregation is perpetuated today through an interlocking set of individual actions, institutional practices, and governmental policies. In some urban areas the degree of black segregation is so intense and occurs in so many dimensions simultaneously that it amounts to "hypersegregation."The authors demonstrate that this systematic segregation of African Americans leads inexorably to the creation of underclass communities during periods of economic downturn. Under conditions of extreme segregation, any increase in the overall rate of black poverty yields a marked increase in the geographic concentration of indigence and the deterioration of social and economic conditions in black communities. As ghetto residents adapt to this increasingly harsh environment under a climate of racial isolation, they evolve attitudes, behaviors, and practices that further marginalize their neighborhoods and undermine their chances of success in mainstream American society. This book is a sober challenge to those who argue that race is of declining significance in the United States today.
Lynching is often viewed as a narrow form of violence: either the spontaneous act of an angry mob against accused individuals, or a demonstration of white supremacy against an entire population considered subhuman. However, in this new treatise, historian Guy Lancaster exposes the multiple forms of violence hidden beneath the singular label of lynching.
Lancaster, who has written extensively on racial violence, details several lynchings of Blacks by white posses in post-Reconstruction Arkansas. Drawing from the fields of history, philosophy, cognitive science, sociology, and literary theory, and quoting chilling contemporary accounts, he argues that the act of lynching encompasses five distinct but overlapping types of violence. This new framework reveals lynching to be even more of an atrocity than previously understood: that mobs did not disregard the humanity of their victims but rather reveled in it; that they were not simply enacting personal vengeance but manifesting an elite project of subjugation. Lancaster thus clarifies and connects the motives and goals of seemingly isolated lynch mobs, embedding the practice in the ongoing enforcement of white supremacy. By interrogating the substance of lynching, American Atrocity shines new light on both past anti-Black violence and the historical underpinnings of our present moment.
This is the rollicking, never-before-published memoir of a fascinating woman with an uncanny knack for being in the right place in the most interesting times. Of racially mixed heritage, Anita Reynolds was proudly African American but often passed for Indian, Mexican, or Creole. Actress, dancer, model, literary critic, psychologist, but above all free-spirited provocateur, she was, as her Parisian friends nicknamed her, an “American cocktail.”One of the first black stars of the silent era, she appeared in Hollywood movies with Rudolph Valentino, attended Charlie Chaplin’s anarchist meetings, and studied dance with Ruth St. Denis. She moved to New York in the 1920s and made a splash with both Harlem Renaissance elites and Greenwich Village bohemians. An émigré in Paris, she fell in with the Left Bank avant-garde, befriending Antonin Artaud, Man Ray, and Pablo Picasso. Next, she took up residence as a journalist in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and witnessed firsthand the growing menace of fascism. In 1940, as the Nazi panzers closed in on Paris, Reynolds spent the final days before the French capitulation as a Red Cross nurse, afterward making a mad dash for Lisbon to escape on the last ship departing Europe.In prose that perfectly captures the globetrotting nonchalance of its author, American Cocktail presents a stimulating, unforgettable self-portrait of a truly extraordinary woman.
This is the story of how rural Black people struggled against the oppressive sharecropping system of the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta during the first half of the twentieth century. Here, white planters forged a world of terror and poverty for Black workers, one that resembled the horrific deprivations of the African Congo under Belgium’s King Leopold II.Delta planters did not cut off the heads and hands of their African American workers but, aided by local law enforcement, they engaged in peonage, murder, theft, and disfranchisement. As individuals and through collective struggle, in conjunction with national organizations like the NAACP and local groups like the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, Black men and women fought back, demanding a just return for their crops and laying claim to a democratic vision of citizenship. Their efforts were amplified by the two world wars and the depression, which expanded the mobility and economic opportunities of Black people and provoked federal involvement in the region.Nan Woodruff shows how the freedom fighters of the 1960s would draw on this half-century tradition of protest, thus expanding our standard notions of the civil rights movement and illuminating a neglected but significant slice of the American Black experience.
The cliché of the Ugly American—loud, vulgar, materialistic, chauvinistic—still expresses what people around the world dislike about their Yankee counterparts. Carrie Tirado Bramen recovers the history of a very different national archetype—the nice American—which has been central to ideas of U.S. identity since the nineteenth century.Niceness is often assumed to be a superficial concept unworthy of serious analysis. Yet the distinctiveness of Americans has been shaped by values of sociality and likability for which the adjective “nice” became a catchall. In America’s fledgling democracy, niceness was understood to be the indispensable trait of a people who were refreshingly free of Old World snobbery. Bramen elucidates the role niceness plays in a particular fantasy of American exceptionalism, one based not on military and economic might but on friendliness and openness. Niceness defined the attitudes of a plucky (and white) settler nation, commonly expressed through an affect that Bramen calls “manifest cheerfulness.”To reveal its contested inflections, Bramen shows how American niceness intersects with ideas of femininity, Native American hospitality, and black amiability. Who claimed niceness and why? Despite evidence to the contrary, Americans have largely considered themselves to be a fundamentally nice and decent people, from the supposedly amicable meeting of Puritans and Native Americans at Plymouth Rock to the early days of American imperialism when the mythology of Plymouth Rock became a portable emblem of goodwill for U.S. occupation forces in the Philippines.
On July 2 and 3, 1917, a mob of white men and women looted and torched the homes and businesses of African Americans in the small industrial city of East St. Louis, Illinois. When the terror ended, the attackers had destroyed property worth millions of dollars, razed several neighborhoods, injured hundreds, and forced at least seven thousand black townspeople to seek refuge across the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. By the official account, nine white men and thirty-nine black men, women, and children lost their lives.
In American Pogrom: The East St. Louis Race Riot and Black Politics, Charles Lumpkins reveals that the attacks were orchestrated by businessmen intent on preventing black residents from attaining political power and determined to clear the city of African Americans.
After the devastating riots, black East St. Louisans participated in a wide range of collective activities that eventually rebuilt their community and restored its political influence. Lumpkins situates the activities of the city’s black citizens in the context of the African American quest for freedom, citizenship, and equality. This study of African American political actions in East St. Louis ends in 1945, on the eve of the post–World War II civil rights movement that came to galvanize the nation in the 1950s and 1960s.
For more than half a century before World War II, black South Africans and “American Negroes”—a group that included African Americans and black West Indians—established close institutional and personal relationships that laid the necessary groundwork for the successful South African and American antiapartheid movements. Though African Americans suffered under Jim Crow racial discrimination, oppressed Africans saw African Americans as free people who had risen from slavery to success and were role models and potential liberators.
Many African Americans, regarded initially by the South African government as “honorary whites” exempt from segregation, also saw their activities in South Africa as a divinely ordained mission to establish “Africa for Africans,” liberated from European empires. The Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, the largest black-led movement with two million members and supporters in forty-three countries at its height in the early 1920s, was the most anticipated source of liberation. Though these liberation prophecies went unfulfilled, black South Africans continued to view African Americans as inspirational models and as critical partners in the global antiapartheid struggle.
The Americans Are Coming! is a rare case study that places African history and American history in a global context and centers Africa in African Diaspora studies.
Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua traces Brooklyn's transformation from a freedom village into a residential commuter satellite that supplied cheap labor to the city and the region. He examines why Brooklyn remained unindustrialized while factories and industrial complexes were built in nearly all the neighboring white-majority towns. As Brooklyn's population tilted more heavily toward single young men employed in the factories and as the city's cheaper retail businesses drew the town's consumer dollars, local businesses--except those catering to nightlife and vice--withered away.
Drawing on town records, regional and African American newspapers, census data, and other sources, Cha-Jua provides a detailed social and political history of America's first Black town. He places Brooklyn in the context of Black-town development and African American nationalism and documents the dedicated efforts of its Black citizens to achieve political control and build a thriving, autonomous, Black-majority community.
America's First Black Town challenges scholarly assumptions that Black political control necessarily leads to internal unity and economic growth. Outlining dynamics that presaged the post-1960s plight of Gary, Detroit, and other Black-dominated cities, Cha-Jua confirms that, despite Brooklyn's heroic struggle for autonomy, Black control was not enough to stem the corrosive tide of internal colonialism.
Whom, or what, does composition—defined here as an intentional process of study, either oral or written—serve? Bradford T. Stull contends that composition would do well to articulate, in theory and practice, what could be called "emancipatory composition." He argues that emancipatory composition is radically theopolitical: it roots itself in the foundational theological and political language of the American experience while it subverts this language in order to emancipate the oppressed and, thereby, the oppressors.
To articulate this vision, Stull looks to those who compose from an oppressed place, finding in the works of W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X radical theopolitical practices that can serve as a model for emancipatory composition. While Stull acknowledges that there are many sites of oppression, he focuses on what Du Bois has called the problem of the twentieth century: the color line, positing that the unique and foundational nature of the color line provides a fecund place in which, from which, a theory and practice of emancipatory composition might be elucidated.
By focusing on four key theopolitical tropes—The Fall, The Orient, Africa, and Eden—that inform the work of Du Bois, King, and Malcolm X, Stull discovers the ways in which these civil rights leaders root themselves in the vocabulary of the American experience in order to subvert it so that they might promote emancipation for African Americans, and thus all Americans.
In drawing on the work of Paulo Freire, Kenneth Burke, Edward Said, Christopher Miller, Ernst Bloch, and others, Stull also locates this study within the larger cultural context. By reading Du Bois, King, and Malcolm X together in a way that they have never before been read, Stull presents a new vision of composition practice to the African American studies community and a reading of African American emancipatory composition to the rhetoric and composition community, thus extending the question of emancipatory composition into new territory.
Speaking wisely and provocatively about the political economy of race, Glenn C. Loury has become one of our most prominent black intellectuals—and, because of his challenges to the orthodoxies of both left and right, one of the most controversial. A major statement of a position developed over the past decade, this book both epitomizes and explains Loury’s understanding of the depressed conditions of so much of black society today—and the origins, consequences, and implications for the future of these conditions.Using an economist’s approach, Loury describes a vicious cycle of tainted social information that has resulted in a self-replicating pattern of racial stereotypes that rationalize and sustain discrimination. His analysis shows how the restrictions placed on black development by stereotypical and stigmatizing racial thinking deny a whole segment of the population the possibility of self-actualization that American society reveres—something that many contend would be undermined by remedies such as affirmative action. On the contrary, this book persuasively argues that the promise of fairness and individual freedom and dignity will remain unfulfilled without some forms of intervention based on race.Brilliant in its account of how racial classifications are created and perpetuated, and how they resonate through the social, psychological, spiritual, and economic life of the nation, this compelling and passionate book gives us a new way of seeing—and, perhaps, seeing beyond—the damning categorization of race in America.
“Lifts and transforms the discourse on ‘race’ and racial justice to an entirely new level.”—Orlando Patterson“Intellectually rigorous and deeply thoughtful…An incisive, erudite book by a major thinker.”—Gerald Early, New York Times Book ReviewWhy are black Americans so persistently confined to the margins of society? And why do they fail across so many metrics—wages, unemployment, income levels, test scores, incarceration rates, health outcomes? Known for his influential work on the economics of racial inequality and for pioneering the link between racism and social capital, Glenn Loury is not afraid of piercing orthodoxies and coming to controversial conclusions. In this now classic work, reconsidered in light of recent events, he describes how a vicious cycle of tainted social information helped create the racial stereotypes that rationalize and sustain discrimination, and suggests how this might be changed.Brilliant in its account of how racial classifications are created and perpetuated, and how they resonate through the social, psychological, spiritual, and economic life of the nation, this compelling and passionate book gives us a new way of seeing—and of seeing beyond—the damning categorization of race.“Paints in chilling detail the distance between Martin Luther King’s dream and the reality of present-day America.”—Anthony Walton, Harper’s“Loury provides an original and highly persuasive account of how the American racial hierarchy is sustained and reproduced over time. And he then demands that we begin the deep structural reforms that will be necessary to stop its continued reproduction.”—Michael Walzer“He is a genuine maverick thinker…The Anatomy of Racial Inequality both epitomizes and explains Loury’s understanding of the depressed conditions of so much of black society today.”—New York Times Magazine
A leading evolutionary historian offers a radical solution to racial health disparities in the United States.Constance B. Hilliard was living in Japan when she began experiencing joint pain. Her doctor diagnosed osteoarthritis—a common ailment for someone her age. But her bloodwork showed something else: Hilliard, who had never had kidney problems, appeared to be suffering from renal failure. When she returned to Texas, however, a new round of tests showed that her kidneys were healthy. Unlike the Japanese doctor, her American primary care provider had checked a box on her lab report for “African American.” As a scholar of scientific racism, Hilliard was perplexed. Why should race, which experts agree has no biological basis, matter for getting accurate test results?Ancestral Genomics is the result of Hilliard’s decade-long quest to solve this puzzle. In a masterful synthesis of evolutionary history, population genetics, and public health research, she addresses the usefulness of race as a heuristic in genomic medicine. Built from European genetic data, the Human Genome Project and other databases have proven inadequate for identifying disease-causing gene variants in patients of African descent. Such databases, Hilliard argues, overlook crucial information about the environments to which their ancestors’ bodies adapted prior to the transatlantic slave trade. Hilliard shows how, by analyzing “ecological niche populations,” a classification model that combines family and ecological histories with genetic information, our increasingly advanced genomic technologies, including personalized medicine, can serve African Americans and other people of color, while avoiding racial essentialism.Forcefully argued and morally urgent, Ancestral Genomics is a clarion call for the US medical community to embrace our multigenomic society.
Baker argues that the concept of culture developed by ethnologists to understand American Indian languages and customs in the nineteenth century formed the basis of the anthropological concept of race eventually used to confront “the Negro problem” in the twentieth century. As he explores the implications of anthropology’s different approaches to African Americans and Native Americans, and the field’s different but overlapping theories of race and culture, Baker delves into the careers of prominent anthropologists and ethnologists, including James Mooney Jr., Frederic W. Putnam, Daniel G. Brinton, and Franz Boas. His analysis takes into account not only scientific societies, journals, museums, and universities, but also the development of sociology in the United States, African American and Native American activists and intellectuals, philanthropy, the media, and government entities from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the Supreme Court. In Anthropology and the Racial Politics of Culture, Baker tells how anthropology has both responded to and helped shape ideas about race and culture in the United States, and how its ideas have been appropriated (and misappropriated) to wildly different ends.
Originally published in 1945 as They Seek a City, this classic was revised and expanded in 1966 to include chapters on Marcus Garvey, the Black Muslims, Malcolm X, and the racial disturbances in Detroit, Chicago, and Watts. Filled with stories about real men and women who sought a new life in the North, Anyplace But Here depicts the theme of hope, undercut by disappointment, and hope renewed as it details the African American's search for a home.
Phoebe Wolfskill demonstrates how Motley's art embodied the tenuous nature of the Black Renaissance and the wide range of ideas that structured it. Focusing on key works in Motley's oeuvre, Wolfskill reveals the artist's complexity and the variety of influences that informed his work. Motley’s paintings suggest that the racist, problematic image of the Old Negro was not a relic of the past but an influence that pervaded the Black Renaissance. Exploring Motley in relation to works by notable black and non-black contemporaries, Wolfskill reinterprets Motley's oeuvre as part of a broad effort to define American cultural identity through race, class, gender, religion, and regional affiliation.
Every American city had a small, self-aware, and active black elite, who felt it was their duty to set the standard for the less fortunate members of their race and to lead their communities by example. Rank within this black upper class rested on such issues as the status of one’s forebears as either house servants or field hands, the darkness of one’s skin, and the level of one’s manners and education.
Professor Gatewood’s study examines this class of African Americans by looking at the genealogies and occupations of specific families and individuals throughout the United States and their roles in their various communities. The resulting narrative is a full and illuminating account of a most influential segment of the African-American population. It explores fully the distinctive background, prestige, attitudes, behavior, power, and culture of this class. The Black Community Studies series from the University of Arkansas Press, edited by Professor Gatewood, continues to examine many of the same themes first explored in this important study.
While basketball didn’t take up residence in the White House in January 2009, the game nonetheless played an outsized role in forming the man who did. In The Audacity of Hoop, celebrated sportswriter Alexander Wolff examines Barack Obama, the person and president, by the light of basketball. This game helped Obama explore his identity, keep a cool head, impress his future wife, and define himself as a candidate.
Wolff chronicles Obama’s love of the game from age 10, on the campaign trail—where it eventually took on talismanic meaning—and throughout his two terms in office. More than 125 photographs illustrate Obama dribbling, shooting free throws, playing pickup games, cooling off with George Clooney, challenging his special assistant Reggie Love for a rebound, and taking basketball to political meetings. There is also an assessment of Obama’s influence on the NBA, including a dawning political consciousness in the league’s locker rooms.
Sidebars reveal the evolution of the president’s playing style, “Baracketology”—a not-entirely-scientific art of filling out the commander in chief’s NCAA tournament bracket—and a timeline charts Obama’s personal and professional highlights.
Equal parts biographical sketch, political narrative, and cultural history, The Audacity of Hoop shows how the game became a touchstone in Obama’s exercise of the power of the presidency.
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