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Black Woman Reformer

Ida B. Wells, Lynching, and Transatlantic Activism

Sarah Silkey

During the early 1890s, a series of shocking lynchings brought unprecedented international attention to American mob violence. This interest created an opportunity for Ida B. Wells, an African American journalist and civil rights activist from Memphis, to travel to England to cultivate British moral indignation against American lynching. Wells adapted race and gender roles established by African American abolitionists in Britain to legitimate her activism as a “black lady reformer”—a role American society denied her—and assert her right to defend her race from abroad. Based on extensive archival research conducted in the United States and Britain, Black Woman Reformer by Sarah Silkey explores Wells’s 1893–94 antilynching campaigns within the broader contexts of nineteenth-century transatlantic reform networks and debates about the role of extralegal violence in American society.

Through her speaking engagements, newspaper interviews, and the efforts of her British allies, Wells altered the framework of public debates on lynching in both Britain and the United States. No longer content to view lynching as a benign form of frontier justice, Britons accepted Wells’s assertion that lynching was a racially motivated act of brutality designed to enforce white supremacy. As British criticism of lynching mounted, southern political leaders desperate to maintain positive relations with potential foreign investors were forced to choose whether to publicly defend or decry lynching. Although British moral pressure and media attention did not end lynching, the international scrutiny generated by Wells’s campaigns transformed our understanding of racial violence and made American communities increasingly reluctant to embrace lynching.

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Black Women’s Christian Activism

Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb

Betty Livingston Adams

When a domestic servant named Violet Johnson moved to the affluent white suburb of Summit, New Jersey in 1897, she became one of just barely a hundred black residents in the town of six thousand. In this avowedly liberal Protestant community, the very definition of “the suburbs” depended on observance of unmarked and fluctuating race and class barriers. But Johnson did not intend to accept the status quo. Establishing a Baptist church a year later, a seemingly moderate act that would have implications far beyond weekly worship, Johnson challenged assumptions of gender and race, advocating for a politics of civic righteousness that would grant African Americans an equal place in a Christian nation. Johnson’s story is powerful, but she was just one among the many working-class activists integral to the budding days of the civil rights movement.
 
In Black Women’s Christian Activism, Betty Livingston Adams examines the oft overlooked role of non-elite black women in the growth of northern suburbs and American Protestantism in the first half of the twentieth century. Focusing on the strategies and organizational models church women employed in the fight for social justice, Adams tracks the intersections of politics and religion, race and gender, and place and space in a New York City suburb, a local example that offers new insights on northern racial oppression and civil rights protest. As this book makes clear, religion made a key difference in the lives and activism of ordinary black women who lived, worked, and worshiped on the margin during this tumultuous time.

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Blackness in the White Nation

Afro-Uruguay, 1830-2010

George Reid Andrews

Andrews offers a comprehensive history of Afro-Uruguayans from the colonial period to the present. Showing how social and political mobilization is intertwined with candombe, he traces the development of Afro-Uruguayan racial discourse and argues that candombe's evolution as a central part of the nation's culture has not fundamentally helped the cause of racial equality. Incorporating descriptions of his own experiences as a member of a candombe drumming and performance group, Andrews connects the struggles of Afro-Uruguayans to the broader issues of race, culture, gender, and politics throughout Latin America and the African diaspora.

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Blacks and American Medical Care

Max Seham

Blacks and American Medical Care was first published in 1974. In a long lifetime of medical practice Dr. Seham, a white physician, has seen at first hand the problems of blacks and medical care in the United States -- the difficulties blacks encounter in getting medical care, in receiving medical training, and in practicing as physicians. Because his own specialty is pediatrics, he has been particularly aware of the problems that are prevalent in the medical care of black children. In this book he describes and documents the black health crisis and makes recommendations for changes which he believes will alleviate existing conditions. Dr. Seham writes: “American medicine has long been a principal victim of our nation’s inverted sense of values. The scientific triumphs of American medicine include the discovery of miracle drugs, the transplantation of organs, and the discovery of new and powerful vaccines, but the portion of the population denied the benefits of these advances consists of many millions. We have allowed military needs to rank far above human needs. The affluent have access to the highest quality of medical care and they know how to get it. The poor and deprived usually get only the crumbs of medical care or none at all.” He points out that racism and poverty are inseparable from the black health crisis and therefore and attack on the problems of health must include an all-out effort to eradicate those two elements -- racism and poverty -- from American society.In conclusion he writes: “I think the case is clear: medical care equality is not only an urgent national need but a moral necessity. The choices this nation makes in the allocation of its resources reflect our system of values. We are indicating our priorities through this allocation, and thus far we have a far from acceptable record in total national health achievements. The mortality, morbidity, and general health statistics of the poverty-stricken, minority groups of our country give evidence of this failure.”

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Blacks and the Quest for Economic Equality

The Political Economy of Employment in Southern Communities in the United States

James W. Button, Barbara A. Rienzo, Sheila L. Croucher

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Blacks at Harvard

A Documentary History of African-American Experience At Harvard and Radcliffe

Werner Sollors, Caldwell Titcomb, Thomas Underwood, Randall Kennedy,

The history of blacks at Harvard mirrors, for better or for worse, the history of blacks in the United States. Harvard, too, has been indelibly scarred by slavery, exclusion, segregation, and other forms of racist oppression. At the same time, the nation's oldest university has also, at various times, stimulated, supported, or allowed itself to be influenced by the various reform movements that have dramatically changed the nature of race relations across the nation. The story of blacks at Harvard is thus inspiring but painful, instructive but ambiguous—a paradoxical episode in the most vexing controversy of American life: the "race question."

The first and only book on its subject, Blacks at Harvard is distinguished by the rich variety of its sources. Included in this documentary history are scholarly overviews, poems, short stories, speeches, well-known memoirs by the famous, previously unpublished memoirs by the lesser known, newspaper accounts, letters, official papers of the university, and transcripts of debates. Among Harvard's black alumni and alumnae are such illustrious figures as W.E.B. Du Bois, Monroe Trotter, and Alain Locke; Countee Cullen and Sterling Brown both received graduate degrees. The editors have collected here writings as diverse as those of Booker T. Washington, William Hastie, Malcolm X, and Muriel Snowden to convey the complex ways in which Harvard has affected the thinking of African Americans and the ways, in turn, in which African Americans have influenced the traditions of Harvard and Radcliffe.

Notable among the contributors are significant figures in African American letters: Phyllis Wheatley, William Melvin Kelley, Marita Bonner, James Alan McPherson and Andrea Lee. Equally prominent in the book are some of the nation's leading historians: Carter Woodson, Rayford Logan, John Hope Franklin, and Nathan I. Huggins. A vital sourcebook, Blacks at Harvard is certain to nourish scholarly inquiry into the social and intellectual history of African Americans at elite national institutions and serves as a telling metaphor of this nation's past.

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Blinded by the Whites

Why Race Still Matters in 21st-Century America

David H. Ikard

The election of Barack Obama gave political currency to the (white) idea that Americans now live in a post-racial society. But the persistence of racial profiling, economic inequality between blacks and whites, disproportionate numbers of black prisoners, and disparities in health and access to healthcare suggest there is more to the story. David H. Ikard addresses these issues in an effort to give voice to the challenges faced by most African Americans and to make legible the shifting discourse of white supremacist ideology—including post-racialism and colorblind politics—that frustrates black self-determination, agency, and empowerment in the 21st century. Ikard tackles these concerns from various perspectives, chief among them black feminism. He argues that all oppressions (of race, gender, class, sexual orientation) intersect and must be confronted to upset the status quo.

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Blood and Bone

Truth and Reconciliation in a Southern Town

Jack Shuler

On the night of February 8, 1968, South Carolina state highway patrolmen fired on civil rights demonstrators in front of South Carolina State College, a historically black institution in the town of Orangeburg. Three young black men—Samuel Hammond, Delano Middleton, and Henry Smith—were killed, and twenty-eight other protestors were injured. Preceding the infamous events at Kent State University by more than two years, the Orangeburg Massacre, as it came to be known, was one of the first violent civil rights confrontations on an American college campus. The patrolmen involved were exonerated while victims and their families were left still seeking justice. To this day the community of Orangeburg endeavors to find resolution and reconciliation. In Blood and Bone, Orangeburg native Jack Shuler offers a multifaceted examination of the massacre and its aftermath, uncovering a richer history than the one he learned as a white youth growing up in Orangeburg. Shuler focuses on why events unfolded and escalated as they did and on the ramifications that still haunt the community. Despite the violence of the massacre and its contentious legacy, Orangeburg is a community of people living and working together. Shuler tells their fascinating stories and pays close attention to the ways in which the region is shaping a new narrative on its own, despite the lack of any official reexamination of the massacre. He also explores his own efforts to understand the tragedy in the context of Orangeburg's history of violence. His native connections gave him access to individuals, black and white, who have previously not spoken out publicly. Blood and Bone breaks new ground as an investigation of the massacre and also as a reflection by a proud Orangeburg native on the meanings of Southern community. Shuler concludes that the history of race and violence in Orangeburg mirrors the history of race relations in the United States—a murky and contested narrative, complicated by the emotions and motivations of those who have shaped the story and of those who have refused to close the book on it. Orangeburg, like the rest of the nation, carries the historical burdens of slavery, war, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and civil rights. Blood and Bone exposes the ways in which historical memory affects the lives of ordinary Americans. Shuler explores how they remember the Orangeburg Massacre, what its meaning holds for them now, and what it means for the future of the South and the nation.

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Blood Sugar

Racial Pharmacology and Food Justice in Black America

Anthony Ryan Hatch

Why do African Americans have exceptionally high rates of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity? Is it their genes? Their disease-prone culture? Their poor diets? Such racist explanations for racial inequalities in metabolic health have circulated in medical journals for decades. Blood Sugar analyzes and challenges the ways in which “metabolic syndrome” has become a major biomedical category that medical researchers have created to better understand the risks high blood pressure, blood sugar, body fat, and cholesterol pose to people. An estimated sixty million Americans are well on the way to being diagnosed with it, many of them belonging to people of color.

Anthony Ryan Hatch argues that the syndrome represents another, very real crisis and that its advent signals a new form of “colorblind scientific racism”—a repackaging of race within biomedical and genomic research. Examining the cultural discussions and scientific practices that target human metabolism of prescription drugs and sugar by African Americans, he reveals how medical researchers who use metabolic syndrome to address racial inequalities in health have in effect reconstructed race as a fixed, biological, genetic feature of bodies—without incorporating social and economic inequalities into the equation. And just as the causes of metabolic syndrome are framed in racial terms, so are potential drug treatments and nutritional health interventions.

The first sustained social and political inquiry of metabolic syndrome, this provocative and timely book is a crucial contribution to the emerging literature on race and medicine. It will engage those who seek to understand how unjust power relations shape population health inequalities and the production of medical knowledge and biotechnologies.


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Blue Coat or Powdered Wig

Free People of Color in Pre-Revolutionary Saint Domingue

Stewart R. King

By the late 1700s, half the free population of Saint Domingue was black. The French Caribbean colony offered a high degree of social, economic, and physical mobility to free people of color. Covering the period 1776-1791, this study offers the most comprehensive portrait to date of Saint Domingue's free black elites on the eve of the colony's transformation into the republic of Haiti.

Stewart R. King identifies two distinctive groups that shared Saint Domingue's free black upper stratum, one consisting of planters and merchants and the other of members of the army and police forces. With the aid of individual and family case studies, King documents how the two groups used different strategies to pursue the common goal of economic and social advancement. Among other aspects, King looks at the rural or urban bases of these groups' networks, their relationships with whites and free blacks of lesser means, and their attitudes toward the acquisition, use, and sale of land, slaves, and other property.

King's main source is the notarial archives of Saint Domingue, whose holdings offer an especially rich glimpse of free black elite life. Because elites were keenly aware of how a bureaucratic paper trail could help cement their status, the archives divulge a wealth of details on personal and public matters.

Blue Coat or Powdered Wig is a vivid portrayal of race relations far from the European centers of colonial power, where the interactions of free blacks and whites were governed as much by practicalities and shared concerns as by the law.

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