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Been Coming through Some Hard Times

Race, History, and Memory in Western Kentucky

Jack Glazier

“This book is a unique study of race and racism across two centuries in the hinterland of the upper South. Its implications are at once depressingly familiar and distinctly fresh.” —W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880–1930

From the earliest days when slaves were brought to western Kentucky, the descendants of both slaves and slave owners in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, have continued to inhabit the same social and historic space. Part ethnography and part historical narrative, Been Coming through Some Hard Times offers a penetrating look at this southern town and the surrounding counties, delving particularly into the ways in which its inhabitants have remembered and publicly represented race relations in their community.
    Neither Deep South nor Appalachian, this western Kentucky borderland presented unique opportunities for African American communities and also deep, lasting tensions with powerful whites. Glazier conducted fieldwork in Hopkinsville for some ten months, examining historical evidence, oral histories, and the racialized hierarchy found in the final resting places of black and white citizens. His analysis shows how structural inequality continues to prevail in Hopkinsville. The book’s ethnographic vignettes of worship services, school policy disputes, segregated cemeteries, a “dressing like our ancestors” day at an elementary school, and black family reunions poignantly illustrate the ongoing debate over the public control of memory. Ultimately, the book critiques the lethargy of white Americans who still fail to recognize the persistence of white privilege and therefore stunt the development of a truly multicultural society.
    Glazier’s personal investment in this subject is clear. Been Coming through Some Hard Times began as an exploration of the life of James Bass, an African American who settled in Hopkinsville in 1890 and whose daughter, Idella Bass, cared for Glazier as a child. Her remarkable life profoundly influenced Glazier and led him to investigate her family’s roots in the town. This personal dimension makes Glazier’s ethnohistorical account especially nuanced and moving. Here is a uniquely revealing look at how the racial injustices of the past impinge quietly but insidiously upon the present in a distinctive, understudied region.

JACK GLAZIER is a professor of anthropology at Oberlin College. He is the author of Dispersing the Ghetto: The Relocation of Jewish Immigrants across America and Land and the Uses of Tradition among the Mbeere of Kenya.

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Behind the Mask of the Strong Black Woman

The defining quality of Black womanhood is strength, states Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant in Behind the Mask of the Strong Black Woman. But, she argues, the idea of strength undermines its real function: to defend and maintain a stratified social order by obscuring Black women’s experiences of suffering, acts of desperation, and anger. This provocative book lays bare the common perception that strength is an exemplary or defining quality of “authentic” Black womanhood.

The author, a noted sociologist, interviews 58 Black women about being strong and proud, to illustrate their “performance” of invulnerability. Beauboeuf-Lafontant explains how such behavior leads to serious symptoms for these women, many of whom suffer from eating disorders and depression.

Drawing on Black feminist scholarship, cultural studies, and women’s history, Behind the Mask of the Strong Black Woman traces the historical and social influences of normative Black femininity, looking at how notions of self-image and strength create a distraction from broader forces of discrimination and power.

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Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

Elizabeth Keckley

###Behind the Scenes# is the life story of Elizabeth Keckley, a shrewd entrepreneur who, while enslaved, raised enough money to purchase freedom for herself and her son. Keckley moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a seamstress and dressmaker for the wives of influential politicians. She eventually became a close confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln. Several years after President Lincoln's assassination, when Mrs. Lincoln's financial situation had worsened, Keckley helped organize an auction of the former first lady's dresses, eliciting strong criticism from members of the Washington elite. ###Behind the Scenes# is, therefore, both a slave narrative and Keckley's attempt to defend the motives behind the auction. However, the book's publication prompted an even greater public outcry, with the added racial subtext of white society's disdain for Keckley's audacity in publishing details of the Lincolns' private lives. Keckley's dressmaking business failed, the Lincoln family cut all ties with her, and she lived out her final days in a home for the indigent. Scholars have acknowledged the book's valuable account of slave life as well as its intimate view into the Lincoln White House. Biographers of the Lincolns have quoted extensively from Keckley's text.

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Behind the White Picket Fence

Power and Privilege in a Multiethnic Neighborhood

Sarah Mayorga-Gallo

The link between residential segregation and racial inequality is well established, so it would seem that greater equality would prevail in integrated neighborhoods. But as Mayorga-Gallo argues, multiethnic and mixed-income neighborhoods still harbor the signs of continued, systemic racial inequalities. Drawing on deep ethnographic and other innovative research from "Creekside Park," a pseudonymous suburban community in Durham, North Carolina, Mayorga-Gallo demonstrates that the proximity of white, African American, and Latino neighbors does not ensure equity; rather, proximity and equity are in fact subject to structural-level processes of stratification.

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Being Black, Being Male on Campus

Understanding and Confronting Black Male Collegiate Experiences

Derrick R. Brooms

Explores how race and gender matter on campus and how Black males navigate college for academic and personal success.

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Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement

A Biography

Randal Maurice Jelks

Best remembered as Martin Luther King's mentor, Benjamin Mays was an African American church scholar, dean of the Howard University School of Religion, long-time president of Morehouse College, and the author of six books on religion. A critical figure in the civil rights movement, Mays also made important contributions to African American higher education and to the study of African American Protestantism. Jelks’s biography shows Mays’s role in articulating the ideology of the modern African American Protestant church and then training the generation that brought that theology to bear on the civil rights movement.

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Better than the Best

Black Athletes Speak, 1920-2007 (V Ethel Willis White Books)

John C. Walter is professor emeritus of American ethnic studies at the University of Washington. He is the author of the 1990 American Book Award winner The Harlem Fox: J. Raymond Jones and Tammany. Malina Iida is a student at William S. Richardson School

These engaging and forthright interviews bring together the life stories of thirteen black athletes who have risen to the top rank of their sport. In revealing and fascinating detail, these athletes describe how they succeeded in the face of often daunting odds, often the result of economic barriers and racist attitudes and practices.

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Between Homeland and Motherland

Africa, U.S. Foreign Policy, and Black Leadership in America

by Alvin B. Tillery Jr

In Between Homeland and Motherland, Alvin B. Tillery Jr. considers the history of political engagement with Africa on the part of African Americans, beginning with the birth of Paul Cuffe's back-to-Africa movement in the Federal Period to the Congressional Black Caucus's struggle to reach consensus on the African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000. In contrast to the prevailing view that pan-Africanism has been the dominant ideology guiding black leaders in formulating foreign policy positions toward Africa, Tillery highlights the importance of domestic politics and factors within the African American community.

Employing an innovative multimethod approach that combines archival research, statistical modeling, and interviews, Tillery argues that among African American elites-activists, intellectuals, and politicians-factors internal to the community played a large role in shaping their approach to African issues, and that shaping U.S. policy toward Africa was often secondary to winning political battles in the domestic arena. At the same time, Africa and its interests were important to America's black elite, and Tillery's analysis reveals that many black leaders have strong attachments to the "motherland."

Spanning two centuries of African American engagement with Africa, this book shows how black leaders continuously balanced national, transnational, and community impulses, whether distancing themselves from Marcus Garvey's back-to-Africa movement, supporting the anticolonialism movements of the 1950s, or opposing South African apartheid in the 1980s.

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Between Slavery and Freedom

Philosophy and American Slavery

Howard McGary and Bill E. Lawson

Using the writings of slaves and former slaves, as well as commentaries on slavery, Between Slavery and Freedom explores the American slave experience to gain a better understanding of six moral and political concepts—oppression, paternalism, resistance, political obligation, citizenship, and forgiveness. The authors use analytical philosophy as well as other disciplines to gain insight into the thinking of a group of people prevented from participating in the social/political discourse of their times.

Between Slavery and Freedom rejects the notion that philosophers need not consider individual experience because philosophy is "impartial" and "universal." A philosopher should also take account of matters that are essentially perspectival, such as the slave experience. McGary and Lawson demonstrate the contribution of all human experience, including slave experiences, to the quest for human knowledge and understanding.

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Beyond Banneker

Black Mathematicians and the Paths to Excellence

Erica N. Walker

An in-depth look at the lives, experiences, and professional careers of Black mathematicians in the United States.

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Beyond Blackface

African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930

Edited by W. Fitzhugh Brundage

This manuscript is a collection of thirteen essays looking at the formative decades in the history of modern American mass culture. Bringing together original work from sixteen distinguished scholars in various disciplines, ranging from theater and literature to history and music, this manuscript addresses the complex roles of black performers, entrepreneurs, and consumers in American mass culture. With subjects ranging from representations of race in sheet music illustrations to African American interest in Haitian culture and with topics spanning the end of the nineteenth century to the Great Depression, these essays expand the discussion of both black culture and American popular culture during the early twentieth century. This anthology presents a fresh and multidisciplinary look at the history of African Americans and mass culture.

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Beyond Blaxploitation

Edited by Novotny Lawrence and Gerald R. Butters, Jr.

Beyond Blaxploitation, the first book-length anthology of scholarly work on blaxploitation film, sustains the momentum that blaxploitation scholarship has recently gained, giving the films an even more prominent place in cinema history. This volume is made up of eleven essays employing historical and theoretical methodologies in the examination of spectatorship, marketing, melodrama, the transition of novel to screenplay, and racial politics and identity, among other significant topics. The book fills a substantial gap that exists in the black cinematic narrative and, more broadly, in film history. Beyond Blaxploitation is divided into three sections that feature original essays on a variety of canonical blaxploitation films and others that either influenced the movement or in some form represent a significant extension of it. The first section titled, "From Pioneer to Precursor to Blaxploitation," centers on three films-Cotton Comes to Harlem, Watermelon Man, and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song-that ignited the African American film cycle. The second section, "The Canon and the Not so Canon," is dedicated to forging alternative considerations of some of the most highly regarded blaxploitation films, while also bringing attention to lesser-known films in the movement. The final section, "Was, Is, or Isn't Blaxploitation," includes four essays that offer significant insights on films that are generally associated with blaxploitation but contest traditional definitions of the movement. Moreover, this section features chapters that address industrial factors that led to the creation of blaxploitation cinema and highlight the limitations of the term itself. Beyond Blaxploitation is a much-needed pedagogical tool, informing film scholars, critics, and fans alike, about blaxploitation's richness and complexity.

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Beyond Bondage

Free Women of Color in the Americas

Edited by David Barry Gaspar and Darlene Clark Hine

David Barry Gaspar and Darlene Clark Hine's Beyond Bondage outlines the restricted spheres within which free women of color, by virtue of gender and racial restrictions, were forced to carve out their existences. Although their freedom, represented by the acquisition of property, respectability, and opportunity, always remained precarious, the collection supports the surprising conclusion that women of color often sought and obtained these advantages more successfully than their male counterparts.

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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.

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Beyond Integration

The Black Freedom Struggle in Escambia County, Florida, 1960-1980

J. Michael Butler

In 1975, Florida's Escambia County and the city of Pensacola experienced a pernicious chain of events. A sheriff's deputy killed a young black man at point-blank range. Months of protests against police brutality followed, culminating in the arrest and conviction of the Reverend H. K. Matthews, the leading civil rights organizer in the county. Viewing the events of Escambia County within the context of the broader civil rights movement, J. Michael Butler demonstrates that while activism of the previous decade destroyed most visible and dramatic signs of racial segregation, institutionalized forms of cultural racism still persisted. In Florida, white leaders insisted that because blacks obtained legislative victories in the 1960s, African Americans could no longer claim that racism existed, even while public schools displayed Confederate imagery and allegations of police brutality against black citizens multiplied.

Offering a new perspective on the literature of the black freedom struggle, Beyond Integration reveals how with each legal step taken toward racial equality, notions of black inferiority became more entrenched, reminding us just how deeply racism remained--and still remains--in our society.

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Beyond Lift Every Voice and Sing

The Culture of Uplift, Identity, and Politics in Black Musical Theatre

Paula Marie Seniors’s Beyond Lift Every Voice and Sing is an engaging and well-researched book that explores the realities of African American life and history as refracted through the musical theater productions of one of the most prolific black song-writing teams of the early twentieth century. James Weldon Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson, and Bob Cole combined conservative and progressive ideas in a complex and historically specific strategy for overcoming racism and its effects. In Shoo Fly Regiment (1906–1908) and The Red Moon (1908–1910), theater, uplift, and politics collided as the team tried to communicate a politics of uplift, racial pride, gender equality, and interethnic coalitions. The overarching question of this study is how roles and representations in black musical theater both reflected and challenged the dominant social order. While some scholars dismiss the team as conformists, Seniors’s contention is that they used the very tools of hegemony to make progressive political statements and to create a distinctly black theater informed by black politics, history, and culture. These men were writers, musicians, actors, and vaudevillians who strove to change the perception of African Americans on stage from one of minstrelsy buffoonery to one of dignity and professionalism.

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Beyond <i>The Chinese Connection</i>

Contemporary Afro-Asian Cultural Production

Crystal S. Anderson

In Beyond The Chinese Connection, Crystal S. Anderson explores the cultural and political exchanges between African Americans, Asian Americans, and Asians over the last four decades. To do so, Anderson examines such cultural productions as novels (Frank Chin's Gunga Din Highway [1999], Ishmael Reed's Japanese By Spring [1992], and Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle [1996]); films (Rush Hour 2 [2001], Unleashed [2005], and The Matrix trilogy [1999-2003],) and Japanese animation (Samurai Champloo [2004]), all of which feature cross-cultural conversations. In exploring the ways in which writers and artists use this transferral, Anderson traces and tests the limits of how Afro-Asian cultural production interrogates conceptions of race, ethnic identity, politics, and transnational exchange.

Ultimately, this book reads contemporary black/Asian cultural fusions through the recurrent themes established by the films of Bruce Lee, which were among the first--and certainly most popular--works to use this exchange explicitly. As a result of such films as Enter the Dragon (1973), The Chinese Connection (1972), and The Big Boss (1971), Lee emerges as both a cross-cultural hero and global cultural icon who resonates with the experiences of African American, Asian American and Asian youth in the 1970s. Lee's films and iconic imagery prefigure themes that reflect cross-cultural negotiations with global culture in post-1990 Afro-Asian cultural production.

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Beyond the White Negro

Empathy and Anti-Racist Reading

Kimberly Chabot Davis

Critics often characterize white consumption of African American culture as a form of theft that echoes the fantasies of 1950s-era bohemians, or "White Negroes," who romanticized black culture as anarchic and sexually potent. In Beyond the White Negro, Kimberly Chabot Davis claims such a view fails to describe the varied politics of racial crossover in the past fifteen years.Davis analyzes how white engagement with African American novels, film narratives, and hip-hop can help form anti-racist attitudes that may catalyze social change and racial justice. Though acknowledging past failures to establish cross-racial empathy, she focuses on examples that show avenues for future progress and change. Her study of ethnographic data from book clubs and college classrooms shows how engagement with African American culture and pedagogical support can lead to the kinds of white self-examination that make empathy possible. The result is a groundbreaking text that challenges the trend of focusing on society's failures in achieving cross-racial empathy and instead explores possible avenues for change.

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Bike Lanes Are White Lanes

Bicycle Advocacy and Urban Planning

Melody L Hoffmann

The number of bicyclists is increasing in the United States, especially among the working class and people of color. In contrast to the demographics of bicyclists in the United States, advocacy for bicycling has focused mainly on the interests of white upwardly mobile bicyclists, leading to neighborhood conflicts and accusations of racist planning.

In Bike Lanes Are White Lanes, scholar Melody L. Hoffmann argues that the bicycle has varied cultural meaning as a “rolling signifier.” That is, the bicycle’s meaning changes in different spaces, with different people, and in different cultures. The rolling signification of the bicycle contributes to building community, influences gentrifying urban planning, and upholds systemic race and class barriers.

In this study of three prominent U.S. cities—Milwaukee, Portland, and Minneapolis—Hoffmann examines how the burgeoning popularity of urban bicycling is trailed by systemic issues of racism, classism, and displacement. From a pro-cycling perspective, Bike Lanes Are White Lanes highlights many problematic aspects of urban bicycling culture and its advocacy as well as positive examples of people trying earnestly to bring their community together through bicycling.
             
 
 

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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.

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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.

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Black Aesthetics and the Interior Life

Christopher Freeburg

BLACK AESTHETICS AND THE INTERIOR LIFE makes a striking and original contribution to our understanding of African American literature and culture. Freeburg looks to moments when black characters are rendered as inhuman, as object, or as flesh so as better to understand the nature of black personhood and subjectivity in literature. In doing so, he stakes a claim for the defiant humanity of black charactersâ€_and, by extension, of black peopleâ€_under pressure and in pain.

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Black American Literature and Humanism

R. Baxter Miller. with contributions by Richard K. Barksdale, Alice Childress, Chester J. Fontenot, Michael S. Harper, Trudier Harris, and George Kent

For Black writers, what is tradition? What does it mean to them that Western humanism has excluded Black culture? Seven noted Black writers and critics take up these and other questions in this collection of original essays, attempting to redefine humanism from a Black perspective, to free it from ethnocentrism, and to enlarge its cultural base.

Contributors: Richard K. Barksdale, Alice Childress, Chester J. Fontenot, Michael S. Harper, Trudier Harris, George E. Kent, R. Baxter Miller

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The Black Arts Enterprise and the Production of African American Poetry

Howard Rambsy II

The Black Arts Enterprise and the Production of African American Poetry offers a close examination of the literary culture in which the Black Arts Movement’s poets (including Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Larry Neal, Haki Madhubuti, Carolyn Rodgers, and others) operated and of the small presses and literary anthologies that first published the movement’s authors. The book also describes the role of the Black Arts Movement in reintroducing readers to poets such as Langston Hughes, Robert Hayden, Margaret Walker, and Phillis Wheatley. Focusing on the material production of Black Arts poetry, the book combines genetic criticism with cultural history to shed new light on the period, its publishing culture, and the writing and editing practices of its participants. Howard Rambsy II demonstrates how significant circulation and format of black poetic texts—not simply their content—were to the formation of an artistic movement. The book goes on to examine other significant influences on the formation of Black Arts discourse, including such factors as an emerging nationalist ideology and figures such as John Coltrane and Malcolm X.

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