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Area and Ethnic Studies > African American and African Diaspora Studies

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Beyond Home Plate Cover

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Beyond Home Plate

Jackie Robinson on Life After Baseball

by Michael Long

When he first took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, Jackie Robinson broke a color barrier that reached back sixty years to the very origins of American baseball. He would go on to play in six World Series and help the Dodgers win the 1955 World Championship. But Robinson was much more than just a baseball player. This book collects columns which Robinson wrote primarily for the New York Post and the New York Amsterdam News, as well as including excerpts of letters between Robinson and politicians such as Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy. These writings portray Robinson as a deeply passionate, intelligent, and eloquent man with strongly-held convictions about the Civil Rights Movement and the political decisions which shaped America in the 1960s and ‘70s. He was also a devoted husband and father conflicted by his ability to provide the best for his children and his desire to keep them grounded in the struggles facing all African Americans at the time. Each column is preceded by a brief contextualizing introduction by Long, and Robinson’s columns are broken into three themes: “On Baseball and Golf,” “On Family and Friends,” and “On Civil Rights.” The brevity of the columns and Robinson’s vivid imagery and compelling voice make this an absorbing and often very moving read.

Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930–1942 Cover

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Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930–1942

Christopher Wilkinson

Biomedical Ambiguity Cover

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Biomedical Ambiguity

Race, Asthma, and the Contested Meaning of Genetic Research in the Caribbean

Steadily increasing numbers of Americans have been diagnosed with asthma in recent years, attracting the attention of biomedical researchers, including those searching for a genetic link to the disease. The high rate of asthma among African American children has made race significant to this search for genetic predisposition. One of the primary sites for this research today is Barbados. The Caribbean nation is considered optimal because of its predominantly black population. At the same time, the government of Barbados has promoted the country for such research in an attempt to take part in the biomedical future.

In Biomedical Ambiguity, Ian Whitmarsh describes how he followed a team of genetic researchers to Barbados, where he did fieldwork among not only the researchers but also government officials, medical professionals, and the families being tested. Whitmarsh reveals how state officials and medical professionals make the international biomedical research part of state care, bundling together categories of disease populations, biological race, and asthma. He points to state and industry perceptions of mothers as medical caretakers in genetic research that proves to be inextricable from contested practices around nation, race, and family.

The reader's attention is drawn to the ambiguity in these practices, as researchers turn the plurality of ethnic identities and illness meanings into a science of asthma and race at the same time that medical practitioners and families make the opaque science significant to patient experience. Whitmarsh shows that the contradictions introduced by this "misunderstanding" paradoxically enable the research to move forward.

Birth of a Notion; Or, The Half Ain't Never Been Told Cover

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Birth of a Notion; Or, The Half Ain't Never Been Told

A Narrative Account with Entertaining Passages of the State of Minstrelsy & of America & the True Relation Thereof

as Written by Bill Harris

A critical look at black identity in American history and popular culture as told from a performative African American perspective.

Black Cadet in a White Bastion Cover

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Black Cadet in a White Bastion

Charles Young at West Point

Brian G. Shellum

Born in slavery, Charles Young (1864–1922) was the third black graduate of West Point, the first black U.S. military attaché, and the highest-ranking black officer in the Regular Army until his death. Unlike the two black graduates before him, Young went on to a long military career, eventually achieving the rank of colonel. After Young, racial intolerance closed the door to blacks at the academy, and forty-seven years passed before another African American graduated from West Point.

Brian G. Shellum’s biography of Young’s years at West Point chronicles the enormous challenges that Young faced and provides a valuable window into life at West Point in the 1880s. Academic difficulties, hazing, and social ostracism dogged him throughout his academy years. He succeeded through a combination of focused intellect, hard work, and a sense of humor. By graduation, he had made white friends, and his motivation and determination had won him the grudging respect of many of his classmates and professors.

Until now, scholars of African American and military history have neglected this important U.S. Army trailblazer. Young’s experiences at the U.S. Military Academy, his triumph over adversity, and his commitment to success forged the mold for his future achievements as an Army officer, even as the United States slipped further into the degradation and waste of racial intolerance.

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Black Camera

Vol. 1 (2009) through current issue

Black Camera is devoted to the study and documentation of the black cinematic experience and is the only scholarly film journal of its kind in the United States. It regularly features essays and interviews that engage film in social as well as political distribution, and production of film in local, regional, national, and transnational settings and environments.

The Black Carib Wars Cover

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The Black Carib Wars

Freedom, Survival, and the Making of the Garifuna

Christopher Taylor

In The Black Carib Wars, Christopher Taylor offers the most thoroughly researched history of the struggle of the Garifuna people to preserve their freedom on the island of St. Vincent.

Today, thousands of Garifuna people live in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the United States, preserving their unique culture and speaking a language that directly descends from that spoken in the Caribbean at the time of Columbus. All trace their origins back to St. Vincent where their ancestors were native Carib Indians and shipwrecked or runaway West African slaves--hence the name by which they were known to French and British colonialists: Black Caribs.

In the 1600s they encountered Europeans as adversaries and allies. But from the early 1700s, white people, particularly the French, began to settle on St. Vincent. The treaty of Paris in 1763 handed the island to the British who wanted the Black Caribs' land to grow sugar. Conflict was inevitable, and in a series of bloody wars punctuated by uneasy peace the Black Caribs took on the might of the British Empire. Over decades leaders such as Tourouya, Bigot, and Chatoyer organized the resistance of a society which had no central authority but united against the external threat. Finally, abandoned by their French allies, they were defeated, and the survivors deported to Central America in 1797.

The Black Carib Wars draws on extensive research in Britain, France, and St. Vincent to offer a compelling narrative of the formative years of the Garifuna people.





Black Communists Speak on Scottsboro: A Documentary History Cover

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Black Communists Speak on Scottsboro: A Documentary History

On March 25, 1931, Alabama police detained nine young African AMerican men at a railroad stop not far from Scottsboro.  In the process, they encountered two white women --  who promptly accused the young men of raping them.  Soon after, all-white juries found the nine youths guilty and eight of them were sentenced to death.  Although many Americans were outraged by the injustices of the case, the loudest voices raised in protest were those of members of the American Communist Party.

Many white Communists spoke out, but black Communists took the lead in organizing public protests and legal responses.  As this surprising book makes clear, they were acting at the direction of the Communist International  (Comintern), which had directed them to address the "Negro problem."  Now, with the opening of formerly inaccessible Communist party archives, this collection of primary documents reveals the little-known but major roles played by black Communists in the case of "the Scottsboro Boys."

Black Cultural Traffic Cover

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Black Cultural Traffic

Crossroads in Global Performance and Popular Culture

Edited by Harry J. Elam, Jr. and Kennell Jackson

A shrewdly designed, generously expansive, timely contribution to our understanding of how 'black' expression continues to define and defy the contours of global (post)modernity. The essays argue persuasively for a transnational ethos binding disparate African and diasporic enactments, and together provide a robust conversation about the nature, history, future, and even possibility of 'blackness' as a distinctive mode of cultural practice. --Kimberly Benston, author of Performing Blackness "Black Cultural Traffic is nothing less than our generation's manifesto on black performance and popular culture. With a distinguished roster of contributors and topics ranging across academic disciplines and the arts (including commentary on film, music, literature, theater, television, and visual cultures), this volume is not only required reading for scholars serious about the various dimensions of black performance, it is also a timely and necessary teaching tool. It captures the excitement and intellectual innovation of a field that has come of age. Kudos!" --Dwight A. McBride, author of Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch "The explosion of interest in black popular culture studies in the past fifteen years has left a significant need for a reader that reflects this new scholarly energy. Black Cultural Traffic answers that need." --Mark Anthony Neal, author of Songs in the Key of Black Life "A revolutionary anthology that will be widely read and taught. It crisscrosses continents and cultures and examines confluences and influences of black popular culture -- music, dance, theatre, television, fashion and film. It also adds a new dimension to current discussions of racial, ethnic, and national identity." --Horace Porter, author of The Making of a Black Scholar

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Black Culture and the New Deal

The Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era

Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff

In the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration refused to endorse legislation that openly sought to improve political, economic, and social conditions for African Americans, but they did recognize and celebrate African Americans, says Sklaroff, by offering federal support to notable black intellectuals, celebrities, and artists. Sklaroff argues that these New Deal programs represent a key moment in the history of American race relations, as the cultural arena provided black men and women with unique employment opportunities and new outlets for political expression.

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