Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-v

Contents

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pp. vii-ix

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

I would like first to thank series editors Stanley Aronowitz, George Lipsitz, and Nancy Fraser (who conceived this collection and brought it to the attention of the University of Minnesota Press; thanks very much, Nancy!) for their support and...

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Introduction. Beyond Essentialism: Expanding African-American Cultural Criticism

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pp. xiii-xxxiii

Contemporary African-American culture is radically complex and diverse, marked by an intriguing variety of intellectual reflections, artistic creations, and social practices. Its vibrant diversity cautions against portraying the constitutive...

Part I: What's Going On? Black Popular Culture

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1. The Culture of Hip-Hop

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pp. 3-15

From the very beginning of its recent history, hip-hop music—or rap, as it has corne to be known—has faced various obstacles. Initially, rap was deemed a passing fad, a playful and ephemeral black cultural form that steamed off the musical energies...

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2. Rap Music and Black Culture: An Interview

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pp. 16-22

QUESTION: In "Rap, Race, and Reality," you offered a brief summary of the history of rap music, from its initial stage of boastful partying, through a social critique phase (epitomized by Grandmaster Flash's "The Message"), to the "pluralization"...

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3. Spike Lee's Neonationalist Vision

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pp. 23-34

In 1986, a distinct phase in contemporary African-American cinema commenced. Spike Lee wrote, produced, directed, and acted in She's Gotta Have It, an independently made sex comedy that cost $175,000 but grossed over $6 million...

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4. Michael Jackson's Postmodern Spirituality

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pp. 35-63

Michael Jackson is, arguably, the greatest entertainer of the twentieth century. As an international superstar, Jackson has captured the devotion of a large segment of the world's population in a manner reserved for a select few historic...

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5. Be Like Mike?: Michael Jordan and The Pedagogy of Desire

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pp. 64-77

Michael Jordan is perhaps the best, and best-known, athlete in the world today. He has attained unparalleled cultural status because of his extraordinary physical gifts, his marketing as an icon of race-transcending American athletic and moral...

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6. Bill Cosby and the Politics of Race

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pp. 78-89

Bill Cosby is a formidable national icon. He is a powerful symbol of the graceful confluence of talent, wealth, and industry that are the American Dream. His television series, "The Cosby Show," has singlehandedly revived the situation comedy,...

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7. Between Apocalypse and Redemption: John Singleton's Boyz N the Hood

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pp. 90-111

By now the dramatic decline in black male life has become an unmistakable feature of our cultural landscape—although of course the causes behind the desperate condition of black men date much further back than its recent popular discovery. Every...

Part II: Beyond the Mantra: Reflections on Race, Gender, and Class

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8. Probing a Divided Metaphor: Malcolm X and His Readers

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pp. 115-131

In The Autobiography of Malcolm X the charismatic black religious nationalist recalls his momentous 1964 pilgrimage to Mecca, a visit that would alter the course of his life and career. After twelve years in which this minister of the Nation...

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9. The Liberal Theory of Race

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pp. 132-145

The abysmal state of race relations in American culture is a continuing source of bewilderment and frustration. The reappearance of overt racist activity, especially on college and secondary school campuses, forces us to reevaluate...

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10. Racism and Race Theory in the Nineties

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pp. 146-156

Contemporary African-Americans are confronting the myriad and conflicted meanings of race, as well as a spiral of new cultural possibilities only partially revealed in the tortuous trajectory of American race relations since the civil rights...

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11. Leonard Jeffries and the Struggle for the Black Mind

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pp. 157-166

The whirlwind of controversy that surrounds the figure of Dr. Leonard Jeffries obscures the complex problems that must figure in an understanding of the nerve he has struck deep in the decadent cavity of race in America. The outspoken...

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12. Sex, Race, and Class: Two Cases

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pp. 167-181

Sex, race, and class have played a critical role in numerous American cultural revolutions during this century. The civil rights, feminist, and labor movements reflect the power of this provocative trio to spark social transformation, help define...

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13. The Plight of Black Men

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pp. 182-198

On a recent trip to Knoxville, I visited Harold's barber shop, where I had gotten my hair cut during college, and after whenever I had the chance. I had developed a friendship with Ike, a local barber who took great pride in this work....

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14. Black Grass-Roots Leaders

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pp. 199-209

Black leadership across America is entangled in the thickets of a punishing irony: it is riddled by uncertainty precisely when it should be enjoying its greatest impact in our nation's history. The problem derives from changing expectations...

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15. Reflections on the 1988 Presidential Campaign

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pp. 210-218

Any reflection on the 1988 presidential campaign's meaning for progressives must begin by acknowledging the general demoralization of the left, which is principally due to two factors. First, there is the continuing contraction of the...

Part III: This Far by Faith: Black Religion

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16. Mixed Blessings: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Lessons of an Ambiguous Heroism

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pp. 221-249

The establishment of a national holiday to honor the life and achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr., is a reason for critical celebration. Only the second American and the first African- American to be feted with this singular honor,...

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17. Martin and Malcolm

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pp. 250-266

Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X are the towering icons of contemporary African-American culture. Of course, King has transcended the boundaries of race. His iridescent image has been seized upon to illumine an astonishing array...

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18. For Jonathan's Sake: The Morality of Memory—a Sermon

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pp. 267-275

Gratitude, certainly, must count as one of the central virtues of the Christian faith. The posture of appreciation for a kind and helpful word spoken or a hospitable gesture performed is consistently affirmed throughout the Bible. In one...

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19. Rap Culture, the Church, and American Society

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pp. 276-285

The fevered response that rap culture has recently evoked presents a telling contrast to the tepid indifference that greeted its obscure origins in New York's ghettos little more than a decade ago. At best, rap was first viewed as...

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20. "God Almighty Has Spoken from Washington, D.C.": American Society and Christian Faith

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pp. 286-321

As usual Stanley Hauerwas (this time with Michael Baxter) has, in "The Kingship of Christ: Why Freedom of 'Belief Is Not Enough," given us a great deal to think about in wrestling with the persistent problems growing out of the...

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21. The Promise and Perils of Contemporary Gospel Music

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pp. 322-329

Traditional gospel is the music of mass choirs, ecstatic solos, and pounding, clapping rhythms. "Real gospel music is an intelligible sermon in song," says Harold Bailey, who led the Harold Bailey singers in the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout...

Index

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pp. 331-343