Black Mosaic: The Politics of Black Pan-Ethnic Diversity

Candis Watts Smith

[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science]  Candis Watts Smith is the author of Black Mosaic: The Politics of Black Pan-Ethnic Diversity (NYU Press, 2014). Watts Smith is assistant professor of political science at Williams College.

How do Black immigrants in the US view their racial and ethnic identities? Do they identify with being Black, African American, or something else? Like Christina Greer (Black Ethnics) and Natalie-Masuoka and Jane Junn (Politics of Belonging) who have appeared on the podcast before, Watts Smith aims to unpack the immigrant experience in the US. Her book takes terms like African American and Black, and analyzes the way individuals from a variety of immigrant backgrounds attach identity. Watts Smith finds areas of wide agreement on group consciousness, but also areas of divergence, particularly around finding a common policy agenda.…

Native Apostles: Black and Indian Missionaries in the British Atlantic World

Edward Andrews

[Cross-posted from New Books in Christian Studies] Often when we think of missions to Native Americans or people of African descent, we think of white missionaries. In his book Native Apostles: Black and Indian Missionaries in the British Atlantic World (Harvard University Press, 2013), Dr. Edward E. Andrews challenges this view. Through his careful research, skilled use of anecdotes, and compelling narrative. Dr. Andrews shows how it was Native Americans and people of African descent themselves who did much of the heavy lifting when it came to mission work. Moreover, Dr. Andrews not only explores the complex relationship between these diverse groups of people within the Protestant churches he studies (primarily Puritan, Anglican, and Moravian), the meeting of Protestant Christianity and indigenous religious beliefs, and the relationship between culture and religion, he also shows how white, black, and Native American missionaries cooperated (and argued with) each other. This book is a fascinating read and is highly recommended to anyone interested in the history of the Atlantic World or missions.

Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn

Brian Purnell

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] Scholars interested in the history of the civil rights movement in the North will definitely be interested in Brian Purnell‘s new book, Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn (University Press of Kentucky, 2014). This case study of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Brooklyn joins one of the fastest-growing areas of research in the field: the roots and experience of the black freedom struggle above the Mason-Dixon. Challenging many of the nation’s persistent beliefs about the geographic timeline and ideological dynamics of that social movement, this literature has broadened our understanding of the past and given us a far more complicated view of the challenges facing grassroots organizations  in the years before, during, and following the “classical period,” stretching from Rosa Parks’s arrest to Martin Luther King’s dream. Purnell looks at one of CORE’s most active, aggressive chapters in the North between 1960 and 1965. An exemplar of social history, the book explores the difficulties facing a small organization trying to upset the racial status quo in a city that prided itself on colorblindness–pioneering much of the legislation adopted by the federal government later–despite the fact that in education, housing, and labor segregation prevailed. Aggravating matters were a number of seismic changes in New York, as elsewhere: the flight of industry and middle class taxpayers to the suburbs and Sunbelt, and the influx of millions of laid-off southern sharecroppers to neighborhoods that, because of “de facto” Jim Crow, became increasingly poor, overcrowded, dilapidated, and ridden with trash, crime, and despair. Purnell gives us the story of a group valiantly attempting to avert and assuage these overwhelming developments. As he notes, their failures speak to the reality many still face today.…

Police Power and Race Riots: Urban Unrest in Paris and New York

Cathy Schneider

[Cross-posted from New Books in Political ScienceCathy L. Schneider is the author of Police Power and Race Riots: Urban Unrest in Paris and New York (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014). She is associate professor in the School of International Service at American University.

Timeliness is not something that every scholarly book can claim, but Cathy Schneider has published a book of the moment. With protests occurring across the country in response to recent police-related deaths (Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Eric Garner in New York City), Schneider explains why some of these protests have resulted in rioting in the past and others in peaceful protest. Why, she ponders, has Paris burned while New York City has not had significant rioting in decades, despite similar sociopolitical conditions? New York, Schneider argues, has effective social movement organizations in place to channel frustration surrounding past police violence toward organized protest. For anyone trying to make sense of what recent events, this book is a must read.…

All Eyes Are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn

Jason Sokol

[Cross-posted from New Books in American Studies] When it came to race relations, the post-World War Two North was different — better — than the South. Or so white people in the northeast told themselves. While Jason Sokol argues that there was a real basis for what he calls the “northern mystique,” his new book All Eyes Are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn (Basic Books, 2014) shows that this conviction disguised a deep, rich vein of racism that blocked progress and justice for people of color. Examining Jackie Robinson, Shirley Chisholm, David Dinkins, and other important figures from the 1930s through the 2000s, Sokol presents us with a sobering reflection on the limits of racial progress in the nation’s progressive center.…

1919, The Year of Racial Violence: How African Americans Fought Back

DAVID KRUGLER

In 1919, The Year of Racial Violence: How African Americans Fought Back (Cambridge University Press, 2014), David Krugler chronicles the origins and development of ten major race riots that took place in the United States during that year. Although sustained, anti-black violence both predates and succeeds the year under examination,  1919 distinguishes itself by the sheer number of major racial conflicts occurring between late 1918 and late 1919. Krugler argues that these riots can be seen as a direct result of the societal upheavals engendered by the Great War and less directly, as a continuation of Reconstruction violence. Krugler uses the term “race riot” as shorthand for “anti-black collective violence”, which took several forms including mob attacks and lynchings. He describes the armed resistance of African Americans to this systemic and systematic terror as a three-front war comprised of self-defense, “the battle for the truth about the riots”, and the fight for justice.…

Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America

Doug McAdam

Doug McAdam and Karina Kloos are the authors of Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America (Oxford University Press, 2014). McAdam is The Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology at Stanford University and the former Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Kloos is a scholar of political sociology and social movements at Stanford University, where she is a PhD candidate.

What has gotten us to this point of high political polarization and high income inequality? McAdam and Kloos offer a novel answer to what divides us as a country that focuses on the role social movements have in pulling parties to the extremes or pushing parties to the middle. They argue that the post-World War II period was unusual for its low levels of social movement activities and the resulting political centrism of the 1950s. The Civil Rights movement that followed – and the related backlash politics of the Southern Democrats – pushed the parties away from the center and toward regional realignment. Along the way, activists re-wrote party voting procedures that reinforced the power of vocal minorities within each party, thereby entrenching political polarization for the decades to come.…

Story/Time: The Life of An Idea

Bill T. Jones

When does a dance become a book? How does choreography lend itself to the page? What discontents exist in theorizing performance that are best explored through the written word? And how does one distill the hours of embodied practice into 100 or so pages of a tightly packaged and beautifully rendered text? It was the opportunity of a lifetime to interview the incomparable Bill T. Jones, a mainstay in the landscape of American modern dance and contemporary performance. A true renaissance man, Jones will be familiar to listeners as a multi-talented artist who has shaped contemporary culture as a choreographer, dancer, theater director and author. Creator of over 140 dance works for his own company and numerous commissions for others, Jones is a recipient of the coveted MacArthur Genius Award (1994) and was recognized for his multiple achievements in 2010 at the Kennedy Center Honors. Today as Artistic Director of New York Live Arts, Jones leads this internationally recognized institution known for its commitment to innovative artistry and the presentation of creative work that is shaped by contemporary issues. His most recent book, Story/Time, The Life of An Idea (Princeton University Press, 2014) chronicles a series of multi-media lectures he delivered at the invitation of Princeton University as part of their Toni Morrison Lecture Series. The book is part text and part art object, including photos, and quotations from other artists, including Bill’s mentor, American composer John Cage. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the country’s highest honor for achievement in the arts, Jones crafted this book as a means by which to consider the challenges, demands, rewards and sacrifices that have shaped his career for the last three decades.

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Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors

Carolyn Finney

Geographer Carolyn Finney wrote Black Faces, White Spaces: Re-imagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), out of a frustration with the dominant environmental discourse that, she asserts, doesn’t fully take into consideration the perspectives and interests of African Americans. Finney takes care to recognize the multiplicity of African American relationships to the natural environment and to the environmental movement, broadly understood. Finney’s approach to the subject matter, in which the personal (family history and her  personal politics) is fully integrated into her scholarly project, is deliberately directed to a diverse audience in order to allow the broadest possible cross section of readers to engage meaningfully with issues surrounding the environmental movement and natural resource management in the United States.…