The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Todd E Robinson
A City within a City examines the civil rights movement in the North by concentrating on the struggles for equality in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Historian Todd Robinson studies the issues surrounding school integration and bureaucratic reforms as well as the role of black youth activism to detail the diversity of black resistance. He focuses on respectability within the African American community as a way of understanding how the movement was formed and held together. And he elucidates the oppositional role of northern conservatives regarding racial progress.
A City within a City cogently argues that the post-war political reform championed by local Republicans transformed the city's racial geography, creating a racialized "city within a city," featuring a system of "managerial racism" designed to keep blacks in declining inner-city areas. As Robinson indicates, this bold, provocative framework for understanding race relations in Grand Rapids has broader implications for illuminating the twentieth-century African American urban experience in secondary cities.
Does talking about civic issues encourage civic participation? In his innovative book, Civic Talk, Casey Klofstad shows that our discussions about politics and current events with our friends, colleagues, and relatives—"civic talk"—has the ability to turn thought into action—from voting to volunteering in civic organizations.
Klofstad’s path breaking research is the first to find evidence of a causal relationship between the casual chatting and civic participation. He employs survey information and focus groups consisting of randomly assigned college freshman roommates to show this behavior in action. Klofstad also illustrates how civic talk varies under different circumstances and how the effects can last years into the future. Based on these findings, Klofstad contends that social context plays a central role in maintaining the strength of democracy. This conclusion cuts against the grain of previous research, which primarily focuses on individual-level determinants of civic participation, and negates social-level explanations.
This collection of essays centers on the formation of an ethnic identity among Chinese Americans during the period when immigration was halted. The first section emphasizes the attempts by immigrant Chinese to assert their intention of becoming Americans and to defend the few rights they had as resident aliens. Highlighting such individuals as Yung Wing, and ardent advocate of American social and political ideals, and Wong Chin Foo, one of the first activists for Chinese citizenship and voting rights, these essays speak eloquently about the early struggles in the Americanization movement.
The second section shows how children of the immigrants developed a sense of themselves as having a distinct identity as Chinese Americans. For this generation, many of the opportunities available to other immigrants' children were simply inaccessible. In some districts explicit policies kept Chinese children in segregated schools; in many workplaces discriminatory practices kept them from being hired or from advancing beyond the lowest positions. In the 1930s, in fact, some Chinese Americans felt their only option was to emigrate to China, where they could find jobs better matched to their abilities. Many young Chinese women who were eager to take advantage of the educational and work options opening to women in the wider U.S. society first had to overcome their family's opposition and then racism. As the personal testimonies and historical biographies eloquently attest, these young people deeply felt the contradictions between Chinese and American ways; but they also saw themselves as having to balance the demands of the two cultures rather than as having to choose between them.
In Claiming the Oriental Gateway, Shelley Sang-Hee Lee explores the various intersections of urbanization, ethnic identity, and internationalism in the experience of Japanese Americans in early twentieth-century Seattle. She examines the development and self-image of the city by documenting how U.S. expansion, Asian trans-Pacific migration, and internationalism were manifested locally—and how these forces affected residents’ relationships with one another and their surroundings.
Lee details the significant role Japanese Americans—both immigrants and U.S. born citizens—played in the social and civic life of the city as a means of becoming American. Seattle embraced the idea of cosmopolitanism and boosted its role as a cultural and commercial "Gateway to the Orient" at the same time as it limited the ways in which Asian Americans could participate in the public schools, local art production, civic celebrations, and sports. She also looks at how Japan encouraged the notion of the "gateway" in its participation in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and International Potlach.
Claiming the Oriental Gateway thus offers an illuminating study of the "Pacific Era" and trans-Pacific relations in the first four decades of the twentieth century.
Over the last two decades, right-wing populist parties in Western Europe have gained sizable vote shares and power, much to the fascination and consternation of political observers. Meshing traditionalism and communitarian ideals, right-wing populist parties have come to represent a polar normative ideal to the New Left in Western Europe. In his dynamic study Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right, Simon Bornschier applies a cultural as well as political dimension to analyze the parties of both the right and left in six countries. He develops a theory that integrates the role of political conflict around both established cleavages and party strategies regarding new divisions to explain the varying fortunes of the populist right.
In this, the sequel to his critically acclaimed and controversial The End of Homework, John Buell extends his case against homework. Arguing that homework robs children—and parents—of unstructured time for play and intellectual and emotional development, Closing the Book on Homework offers a convincing case for why homework is an outgrowth of broader cultural anxieties about the sanctity of work itself. After the publication of Buell's previous book, many professional educators portrayed reducing homework as a dangerous idea, while at the same time parents and teachers increasingly raised doubts as to its continued usefulness in education. According to John Buell, the importance of play is culturally underappreciated. Not only grade schoolers, but high school students and adult workers deserve time for the kind of leisure that fosters creativity and sustains a life long interest in learning. Homework is assigned for many reasons, many having little to do with learning, including an accepted, if unchallenged, belief that it fosters good work habits for children's futures. As John Buell argues convincingly, homework does more to obstruct the growth of children's minds, and consumes the time of parents and children who may otherwise develop relationships that foster true growth and learning. A unique book that is sure to fuel the growing debate on school reform, Closing the Book on Homework offers a roadmap for learning that will benefit the wellbeing of children, parents, and teachers alike.
Beginning just before the start of World War II and ending during the Cold War, Gerald Horne's masterful examination of British Guiana and the British West Indies details the collapse of British colonial structures and the corresponding rise of U.S. regional influence. Horne reveals the realities of race and color in the Caribbean under colonial rule, while the colonizers-Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States-battled each other for hegemony on the world stage.
Horne seamlessly weaves a variety of untapped archival sources-including personal correspondence and newspaper stories from three continents-with a wide range of scholarly publications, journals and memoirs to illustrate an important, yet underexamined, regional history in a global context.
Highlighting the centrality of the "labor question" in relation to colonial rule, Cold War in a Hot Zone is a compelling exposé of the racial dimensions of U.S. foreign policy and anti-communist initiatives during WWII and the Cold War that followed.
Founded by the American Jewish Committee in 1945 as a monthly journal of "significant thought and opinion, Jewish affairs and contemporary issues," Commentary magazine has through the years had a far-reaching impact on American politics and culture. Commentary in American Life traces this influence over time, especially in creating the neoconservative movement. The authors of each chapter also consider the ways the magazine shaped and reflected major cultural and literary trends in the United States. The end result offers a full accounting of one of the most important journals of American political thought, providing insight into the development of American collective politics and culture over the last six decades.
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