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The Boston Renaissance

Race, Space, and Economic Change in an American Metropolis

This volume documents metropolitan Boston's metamorphosis from a casualty of manufacturing decline in the 1970s to a paragon of the high-tech and service industries in the 1990s. The city's rebound has been part of a wider regional renaissance, as new commercial centers have sprung up outside the city limits. A stream of immigrants have flowed into the area, redrawing the map of ethnic relations in the city. While Boston's vaunted mind-based economy rewards the highly educated, many unskilled workers have also found opportunities servicing the city's growing health and education industries.

Boston's renaissance remains uneven, and the authors identify a variety of handicaps (low education, unstable employment, single parenthood) that still hold minorities back. Nonetheless this book presents Boston as a hopeful example of how America's older cities can reinvent themselves in the wake of suburbanization and deindustrialization.

A Volume in the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality

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Brazil's Living Museum

Race, Reform, and Tradition in Bahia

Anadelia A. Romo

Romo examines ideas of race in key cultural and public arenas through a close analysis of medical science, the arts, education, and the social sciences. As she argues, although Bahian racial thought came to embrace elements of Afro-Brazilian culture, the presentation of Bahia as a living museum threatened by social change portrayed Afro-Bahian culture and modernity as necessarily at odds. Romo's finely tuned account complicates our understanding of Brazilian racial ideology and enriches our knowledge of the constructions of race across Latin America and the larger African diaspora. Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia has built its economy around attracting international tourists to what is billed as the locus of Afro-Brazilian culture and the epicenter of Brazilian racial harmony. Chronicling the period from the abolition of slavery in 1888 to the start of Brazil's military regime in 1964, Romo uncovers how the state's nonwhite majority moved from being a source of embarrassment to being a critical component of Bahia's identity.

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Breaking Chains

Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory

R. Gregory Nokes

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Brooklyn's Promised Land

The Free Black Community of Weeksville, New York

Judith Wellman

In 1966 a group of students, Boy Scouts, and local citizens rediscovered all that remained of a then virtually unknown community called Weeksville: four frame houses on Hunterfly Road. The infrastructures and vibrant histories of Weeksville, an African American community that had become one of the largest free black communities in nineteenth century United States, were virtually wiped out due to Brooklyn’s exploding population and expanding urban grid.

Weeksville was founded by African American entrepreneurs after slavery ended in New York State in 1827. Located in eastern Brooklyn, Weeksville provided a space of physical safety, economic prosperity, education, and even political power. It had a high rate of property ownership, offered a wide variety of occupations, and hosted a relatively large proportion of skilled workers, business owners, and professionals. Inhabitants organized churches, a school, orphan asylum, home for the aged, newspapers, and the national African Civilization Society. Notable residents of Weeksville, such as journalist and educator Junius P. Morell, participated in every major national effort for African American rights, including the Civil War.

In Brooklyn’s Promised Land, Judith Wellman not only tells the important narrative of Weeksville’s growth, disappearance, and eventual rediscovery, but also highlights the stories of the people who created this community. Drawing on maps, newspapers, census records, photographs, and the material culture of buildings and artifacts, Wellman reconstructs the social history and national significance of this extraordinary place. Through the lens of this local community, Brooklyn’s Promised Land highlights themes still relevant to African Americans across the country. 

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Brothers Gonna Work It Out

Sexual Politics in the Golden Age of Rap Nationalism

Charise Cheney

Brothers Gonna Work It Out considers the political expression of rap artists within the historical tradition of black nationalism. Interweaving songs and personal interviews with hip-hop artists and activists including Chuck D of Public Enemy, KRS-One, Rosa Clemente, manager of dead prez, and Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers, Cheney links late twentieth-century hip-hop nationalists with their nineteenth-century spiritual forebears.

Cheney examines Black nationalism as an ideology historically inspired by a crisis of masculinity. Challenging simplistic notions of hip-hop culture as simply sexist or misogynistic, she pays particular attention to Black nationalists’ historicizing of slavery and their visualization of male empowerment through violent resistance. She charts the recent rejection of Christianity in the lyrics of rap nationalist music due to the perception that it is too conciliatory, and the increasing popularity of Black Muslim rap artists.

Cheney situates rap nationalism in the 1980s and 90s within a long tradition of Black nationalist political thought which extends beyond its more obvious influences in the mid-to-late twentieth century like the Nation of Islam or the Black Power Movement, and demonstrates its power as a voice for disenfranchised and disillusioned youth all over the world.

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Brown Threat

Identification in the Security State

Kumarini Silva

What is “brown” in—and beyond—the context of American identity politics? How has the concept changed since 9/11? In the most sustained examination of these questions to date, Kumarini Silva argues that “brown” is no longer conceived of solely as a cultural, ethnic, or political identity. Instead, after 9/11, the Patriot Act, and the wars in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it has also become a concept and, indeed, a strategy of identification—one rooted in xenophobic, imperialistic, and racist ideologies to target those who do not neatly fit or subscribe to ideas of nationhood.

Interweaving personal narratives, ethnographic research, analyses of popular events like Miss America, and films and TV shows like the Harold and Kumar franchise and Black-ish, Silva maps junctures where the ideological, political, and mediated terrain intersect, resulting in both an appetite for all things “brown” (especially South Asian brown) by U.S. consumers, while political and nationalist discourses and legal structures (immigration, emigration, migration, outsourcing, incarceration) conspire to control brown bodies both within and outside the United States.

Silva explores this contradictory relationship between representation and reality, arguing that the representation mediates and manages the anxieties that come from contemporary global realities, in which brown spaces, like India, Pakistan, and the Middle East pose key economic, security, and political challenges to the United States. While racism is hardly new, what makes this iteration of brown new is that anyone or any group, at any time, can be branded as deviant, as a threat.

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Building the Beloved Community

Philadelphia’s Interracial Civil Rights Organizations and Race Relations, 1930–1970

Stanley Keith Arnold

Inspired by Quakerism, Progressivism, the Social Gospel movement, and the theories of scholars such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles S. Johnson, Franz Boas, and Ruth Benedict, a determined group of Philadelphia activists sought to transform race relations. This book concentrates on these organizations: Fellowship House, the Philadelphia Housing Association, and the Fellowship Commission. While they initially focused on community-level relations, these activists became increasingly involved in building coalitions for the passage of civil rights legislation on the local, state, and national level. This historical account examines their efforts in three distinct, yet closely related areas, education, housing, and labor.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this movement was its utilization of education as a weapon in the struggle against racism. Martin Luther King credited Fellowship House with introducing him to the passive resistance principle of satygraha through a Sunday afternoon forum. Philadelphia's activists influenced the southern civil rights movement through ideas and tactics. Borrowing from Philadelphia, similar organizations would rise in cities from Kansas City to Knoxville. Their impact would have long lasting implications; the methods they pioneered would help shape contemporary multicultural education programs.

Building the Beloved Community places this innovative northern civil rights struggle into a broader historical context. Through interviews, photographs, and rarely utilized primary sources, the author critically evaluates the contributions and shortcomings of this innovative approach to race relations.

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Burying Don Imus

Anatomy of a Scapegoat

Michael Awkward

"That's some nappy-headed hos." With these now-infamous words, uttered in 2007 to describe the supposed appearance of the Rutgers women's basketball team, the radio talk show host Don Imus became the improbable focus of a heated national discussion on race, gender, and the power of language. Excoriated in the media as racist and sexist, Imus quickly lost the corporate sponsorships that had made his show so lucrative and, despite a public meeting with the Rutgers athletes and their coach to apologize for his comments, was fired by CBS two weeks later. In Burying Don Imus, Michael Awkward provides the first balanced, critical analysis of Imus's comments and the public outrage they provoked.

Written from the singular perspective of a black intellectual with both a long-standing commitment to feminism and a deep familiarity with-and appreciation of-Imus in the Morning, this book contends that the reaction to the insult ignored the nature of Imus's contributions to popular culture and political debate while eliding the real and very complicated issues within contemporary racial politics. Awkward's probing account analyzes the responses within the African-American community as reflective of deep-seated anxieties rooted in the collective trauma resulting from centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence. Placing the controversy in multiple contexts, he addresses Imus's public persona and the satirical intent of his show, and delves into such charged topics as the perception of women athletes in American culture, the tradition of racist humor, the sexist language of hip-hop, and the politics of black hairstyles. Awkward also juxtaposes the Imus incident with other recent controversies, including the rape accusations leveled against white players on Duke University's lacrosse team in 2006, in order to demonstrate how sensational spectacles of racism play out in the media again and again.

Highly personal, eclectic, and illuminating, Burying Don Imus examines American society's predilection for self-congratulatory, ineffective hand-wringing over issues of race and racism and its inability to engage productively with the historic oppression of African Americans.

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Busy in the Cause

Iowa, the Free-State Struggle in the West, and the Prelude to the Civil War

Lowell J. Soike

Despite the immense body of literature about the American Civil War and its causes, the nation’s western involvement in the approaching conflict often gets short shrift. Slavery was the catalyst for fiery rhetoric on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line and fiery conflicts on the western edges of the nation. Driven by questions regarding the place of slavery in westward expansion and by the increasing influence of evangelical Protestant faiths that viewed the institution as inherently sinful, political debates about slavery took on a radicalized, uncompromising fervor in states and territories west of the Mississippi River.

Busy in the Cause explores the role of the Midwest in shaping national politics concerning slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. In 1856 Iowa aided parties of abolitionists desperate to reach Kansas Territory to vote against the expansion of slavery, and evangelical Iowans assisted runaway slaves through Underground Railroad routes in Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. Lowell J. Soike’s detailed and entertaining narrative illuminates Iowa’s role in the stirring western events that formed the prelude to the Civil War.

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Café con leche

Race, Class, and National Image in Venezuela

By Winthrop R. Wright

An exploration of whether or not historical facts actually support the popular perception that Venezuelans have achieved a racial democracy in which people of all races live free from prejudice and discrimination.

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