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New Books in African American Studies

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Interviews with Scholars of African America about their New Books


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Interviews with Scholars of African America about their New Books




Felicia Angeja Viator, "To Live and Defy in LA: How Gangsta Rap Changed America" (Harvard UP, 2020)

In 1985, Greg Mack, a DJ working for Los Angeles radio station KDAY, played a song that sounded like nothing else on West Coast airwaves: Toddy Tee’s “The Batteram,” a hip hop track that reflected the experiences of a young man growing up in 1980s Compton. The song tells about the Los Angeles Police Department’s battering ram truck, an emblem of the city under Police Chief Daryl Gates, and which terrorized largely African American neighborhoods across Los Angeles under his watch. In To Live...


Lisa B. Thompson, "Underground, Monroe, and the Mamalogues: Three Plays" (Northwestern UP, 2020)

Lisa B. Thompson is equally renowned as a scholar of African and African-American studies and as a playwright. Her latest book Underground, Monroe, and the Mamalogues: Three Plays (Northwestern University Press 2020) collects plays from throughout her two decades as a playwright. "Underground" is a tense two-hander exploring themes of race, class, and masculinity through the story of two friends with very different ideas about how to change the world. Monroe draws on Thompson’s family’s...


Simone C. Drake, "Are You Entertained?: Black Popular Culture in the Twenty-First Century" (Duke UP, 2020)

Simone C. Drake and Dwan K. Henderson's Are You Entertained?: Black Popular Culture in the Twenty-First Century (Duke UP, 2020) is an engaging and interdisciplinary exploration of contemporary black popular culture and how to think about this broad and diverse landscape, especially in relation to power, capitalism, gender identity, and presidential politics. Simone C. Drake and Dwan K. Henderson have pulled together a fascinating array of scholars of popular culture, cultural critics, as...


Dan Royles, "To Make the Wounded Whole: The African American Struggle Against HIV/AIDS" (UNC Press, 2020)

In the decades since it was identified in 1981, HIV/AIDS has devastated African American communities. Members of those communities mobilized to fight the epidemic and its consequences from the beginning of the AIDS activist movement. They struggled not only to overcome the stigma and denial surrounding a "white gay disease" in Black America, but also to bring resources to struggling communities that were often dismissed as too "hard to reach." To Make the Wounded Whole: The African American...


Nadia Nurhussein, "Black Land: Imperial Ethiopianism and African America" (Princeton UP, 2019)

In Black Land: Imperial Ethiopianism and African America (Princeton University Press, 2019), Nadia Nurhussein explores late nineteenth and twentieth century African American cultural engagement with and literary depictions of imperial Ethiopia. Widely celebrated as one of two African nations to resist European colonization in the age of modern imperialism, Ethiopia captured the attention of a host of African American journalists, artists, writers, adventurers, and even financiers. Drawing on...


Chinua Thelwell, "Exporting Jim Crow: Blackface Minstrelsy in South Africa and Beyond" (U Massachusetts Press, 2020)

Exporting Jim Crow: Blackface Minstrelsy in South Africa and Beyond (U Massachusetts Press, 2020) by Dr. Chinua Thelwell is a rich, well-researched, and sobering investigation of blackface minstrelsy as the “visual bedrock of a transcolonial cultural imaginary.” In tracing minstrel globalization across the Anglo-colonial and British imperial worlds beginning in the 1800s, Thelwell explores the ways that blackface minstrelsy helped to construct and maintain notions of exclusionary citizenship...


Tamura Lomax, “Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture” (Duke UP, 2018)

One of the central threads in the public discourse on Black womanhood is the idea of the “Jezebel.” This trope deems Black women and girls as dishonorable and sexually deviant and the stereotype is circulated from the big screen to the pulpit. Tamura Lomax, Associate Professor at Michigan State University, outlines a historical genealogy of the discursive “Jezebel” and reveals its contemporary legacy in Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture (Duke University...


Alexandra J. Finley, "An Intimate Economy: Enslaved Women, Work, and America’s Domestic Slave Trade" (UNC Press, 2020)

Alexandra J. Finley is the author of An Intimate Economy: Enslaved Women, Work, and America’s Domestic Slave Trade, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2020. An Intimate Economy examines the history of American slavery and capitalism by foregrounding women’s labor in the Antebellum slave trade. Finley explores a variety of topics included, domestic, reproductive, and sexual labor enslaved and free Black women performed at various points in the slave trade. This work adds...


Why are Blacks Democrats?: An Interview with Ismail K. White and Chryl N. Laird

Black Americans are by far the most unified racial group in American electoral politics, with 80 to 90 percent identifying as Democrats—a surprising figure given that nearly a third now also identify as ideologically conservative, up from less than 10 percent in the 1970s. Why has ideological change failed to push more black Americans into the Republican Party? Steadfast Democrats: How Social Forces Shape Black Political Behavior (Princeton University Press, 2020) answers this question with...


Hannah L. Walker, "Mobilized by Injustice: Criminal Justice Contact, Political Participation, and Race" (Oxford UP, 2020)

Hannah Walker’s new book, Mobilized by Injustice: Criminal Justice Contact, Political Participation, and Race (Oxford UP, 2020), brings together the political science and criminal justice disciplines in exploring how individuals are mobilized to engage in political participation by their connection to the criminal justice system in the United States. The fusion between these two academic disciplines, and the focus of their respective studies in this area, answers some questions that are...


Jerry Gershenhorn, "Louis Austin and the Carolina Times: A Life in the Long Black Freedom Struggle" (UNC Press, 2018)

Louis Austin and the Carolina Times: A Life in the Long Black Freedom Struggle (University of North Carolina Press, 2018) by Jerry Gershenhorn is a history of the struggle for Black equality in North Carolina from 1927 to 1971 as told through the life and activism of Black newspaperman Louis Austin. Austin, as editor of the Carolina Times, was involved in nearly every facet of the long Black freedom struggle in North Carolina. He was an outspoken editor and a staunch social justice advocate...


Armstrong Williams, "What Black and White America Must Do Now: A Prescription to Move Beyond Race" (Hot Books, 2020)

What Black and White America Must Do Now: A Prescription to Move Beyond Race (Hot Books, 2020) explores the complexity of race and culture in the United States. In his third book, renowned conservative entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist Armstrong Williams discusses his prescription for healing and atonement amidst today’s current social upheaval. Race and racism are America's original sin, and four hundred years later, they still plague the nation, pitting groups against each other....


Laura J. Arata, "Race and the Wild West" (U Oklahoma Press, 2020)

After Laura Arata first visited Virginia City, Montana in graduate school, she became fascinated by the story of one historical figure—Sarah Bickford, a former slave, who migrated to this frontier, mining town in the late 1860s, and became a prominent business owner who promoted tourism at the site of a famous lynching of white “lawbreakers” by the Montana Vigilantes. In Race and the Wild West: Sarah Bickford, the Montana Vigilantes, and the Tourism of Decline, 1870–1930 (University of...


Ariella Rotramel, "Pushing Back: Women of Color-Led Grassroots Activism in New York City" (U Georgia Press, 2020)

Pushing Back: Women of Color–Led Grassroots Activism in New York City (U Georgia Press, 2020) explores women of color’s grassroots leadership in organizations that are not singularly identified with feminism. Centered in New York City, Pushing Back brings an intersectional perspective to communities of color as it addresses injustices tied to domestic work, housing, and environmental policies and practices. Ariella Rotramel shows how activists respond to injustice and marginalization,...


Laura Briggs, "Taking Children: A History of American Terror" (U California Press 2020)

Laura Briggs’s Taking Children: A History of American Terror (University of California Press 2020) is a forceful and captivating book that readers won’t be able to put down, and that listeners from all sort of backgrounds will definitely want to hear more about. Weaving together histories of Black communities (in the US and the Americas more broadly), Native Americans, and multiple Latin Americans countries, Briggs tells us how taking of children has been used as a strategy to terrorize...


William L. Patterson, "We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government Against the Negro People" (International Publishers, 2017)

In 2017, We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government Against the Negro People, the historic petition authored by William L. Patterson, was published in its third edition. It has been nearly 70 years since Patterson, who passed away in 1980, and Paul Roberson, who passed away in 1976, presented the petition to the United Nations General Assembly, charging the United States government with genocide under the United National Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide....


Jennifer Cobbina, "Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Why the Protests in Ferguson and Baltimore Matter, and How They Changed America" (NYU Press, 2019)

Following the high-profile deaths of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and twenty-five-year-old Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, both cities erupted in protest over the unjustified homicides of unarmed black males at the hands of police officers. These local tragedies—and the protests surrounding them—assumed national significance, igniting fierce debate about the fairness and efficacy of the American criminal justice system. Yet, outside the gaze of mainstream...


Teresa A. Goddu, "Selling Antislavery: Abolition and Mass Media in Antebellum America" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2020)

Selling Antislavery: Abolition and Mass Media in Antebellum America (University of Pennsylvania Press) is a richly illustrated history of the American Anti-Slavery Society and its print, material, and visual artifacts. Beginning with its establishment in the early 1830s, the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) recognized the need to reach and consolidate a diverse and increasingly segmented audience. To do so, it produced a wide array of print, material, and visual media: almanacs and slave...


Postscript: A Discussion of Race, Anger and Citizenship in the USA

How do we have a serious conversation about race that moves beyond the brevity of Twitter or an op-ed? In this episode of Post-Script (a New Books in Political Science series from Lilly Goren and Susan Liebell), three scholars engage in a nuanced and fearless discussion grounded in history, data, and theory. There is no way to summarize this hour of engaged and enraged conversation about racism in the United States. The scholars present overlapping narratives with regards to racial violence...


Edward C. Valandra, "Colorizing Restorative Justice: Voicing Our Realities" (Living Justice Press, 2020)

Colorizing Restorative Justice: Voicing Our Realities (Living Justice Press, 2020) consists of stories that have arisen from the lived experiences of a broad range of seasoned, loving restorative justice practitioners of color—mostly women—who have fiercely unearthed realities about devastation caused by white practitioners who have unthinkingly worked without a racial or social justice consciousness. This book is thus a wake-up call for European-descended restorative justice practitioners...