Race rebels : culture, politics, and the Black working class /
Robin D.G. Kelley.
New York : Free Press ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, c1994.
xiii, 351 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm.
002916706X :
More Details
New York : Free Press ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, c1994.
002916706X :
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 295-332) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1994-09-26:
Kelley (Hammer and Hoe), who teaches Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Michigan, here adapts several of his previously published articles into a loosely linked study describing black working-class resistance outside traditional organizations and political movements. Studying complaints and protests by blacks on Birmingham streetcars and buses during WWII, Kelley discerns a collective effort to gain power over an institution on which they depended. Blacks who joined the Communist Party during the 1920s and '30s, he shows, helped infuse their culture into American communism. Though Malcolm X dismissed his youthful years as self-degrading, Kelley argues that part of Malcolm X's enduring appeal depended on the style he picked up from the 1940s hipster, zoot suit culture. And in an analysis of present-day ``gangsta rap,'' Kelley describes how the music has become cartoonish and critics more sweeping in their dismissal, while the underlying conditions that spawned rap remain unchanged. Kelley's close analyses appropriately reject ``formulaic interpretations,'' as he states, but this book is mainly for students and scholars. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 1995-05:
Kelley offers a provocative, insightful perspective on African American working-class culture, especially as it is manifested in activities outside traditional organizational structures. The book shows how grassroots consciousness was absorbed into movements and how, in turn, the popular mindset was shaped by involvement in organized struggle. Kelley argues that black resistance to oppression was most often expressed in ways that were unorganized, elusive, and clandestine. Contrary to conventional scholarship, Kelley sees the family as an institution that taught members methods of effective resistance, carried out not only at the workplace but also routinely on buses and streetcars, where women in particular fought against abuse by drivers and conductors. The book includes a perceptive discussion of the 1963 Birmingham struggle, recognizing that although the protests involved the African American community's middle class, lower income people also resisted segregation on their own terms. Kelley also gives an appraisal of interaction between blacks and the Communist Party during the 1930s, showing that recruits frequently brought with them a heritage of nationalism with which the party was often conciliatory. The author creatively weaves together questions of political and cultural history, ranging from the participation of blacks in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to the oppositional implications of the zoot suit phenomenon among inner city youth during WW II. In the last chapter Kelley considers the significance of aspects of 1990s black popular culture such as gangsta rap. This is a wide-ranging, challenging book that deserves attention by anyone seriously interested in African American culture. All levels. H. Shapiro; University of Cincinnati
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, September 1994
Booklist, October 1994
Kirkus Reviews, October 1994
Choice, May 1995
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Table of Contents
Introduction: Writing Black Working-Class History from Way, Way Below
"We Wear The Mask": Hidden Histories Of Resistance
Shiftless of the World Unite!
"We Are Not What We Seem": The Politics and Pleasures of Community
Congested Terrain: Resistance on Public Transportation
Birmingham's Untouchables: The Black Poor in the Age of Civil Rights
to Be Red And Black
"Afric's Sons With Banner Red": African American Communists and the Politics of Culture, 1919-1934
"This Ain't Ethiopia, But It'll Do": African Americans and the Spanish Civil War
rebels without a cause?
The Riddle of the Zoot: Malcolm Little and Black Cultural Politics During World War II
Kickin' Reality, Kickin' Ballistics: "Gangsta Rap" and Postindustrial Los Angeles
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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