Friday, August 12, 2011

Some Black Studies Readings -- Aug. 7 - 13

Somehow, I read the pieces that caught my attention most this week just yesterday. Whatever the case, in case you missed them, here are a few good reads.

A Quick Word on Gettysburg by Ta-Nehisi Coates. TNC has become a mainstay on my weekly list of good reads at this point. This week, he was touring Gettysburg in preparation for a story. His blog entry offers a few thoughtful observations, including his point that "it's very tough to consider Gettysburg, as its commonly rendered in the American imagination, when you're black."

Watch the Throne: A Meditation on Black Power by Mark Anthony Neal. This week, Jay-Z and Kanye West released their album Watch the Throne, which was discussed widely this week (already). Neal places the album in musical contexts and provides all kinds of insight that confirm why he's such a respected scholar and commentator on rap and black popular culture in general.

The Fallacy of Touré's Post-Blackness Theory by Randall Kennedy. Professor of law at Harvard University, Kennedy offers a really powerful critique of Touré's new book Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness: What It Means to Be Black Now. Kennedy's piece may be one of the most persuasive counter-arguments to the whole discourse on post-black issues that I have read. Kennedy ends up defending black folks who somehow are regularly cast as being too narrow and cruel when they suggest offering restrictions related to blackness.

At one point, Kennedy writes "Religions impose excommunication. Nations revoke citizenship. Parents disown children. Children disown parents. Why, as a matter of principle, should blacks be disallowed from casting from their community those adjudged to be enemies of it?"

One Nation, Still Divisible by Race by Dwight Garner - a review of Randall Kennedy's The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency. Garner's review, which is quite favorable, suggests that The Persistence of the Color Line is the kind of book that those of us in black studies will certainly want to check out. The Times ran an excerpt from Kennedy's book here.

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