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About Robin D. G. Kelley
Robin D. G. Kelley never met Thelonious Monk, but he grew up with his music. Born in 1962, he spent his formative years in Harlem in a household and a city saturated with modern jazz. As a child he took a few trumpet lessons with the legendary Jimmy Owens, played French horn in junior high school, and picked up piano during his teen years in California. In 1987, Kelley earned his PhD in History from UCLA and focused his work on social movements, politics and culture--although music remained his passion.
During his tenure on the faculties of Emory University, the University of Michigan, New York University, and Columbia University, Kelley's scholarly interests shifted increasingly toward music. He has written widely on jazz, hip hop, electronic music, musicians' unions and technological displacement, and social and political movements more broadly.
Before becoming Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, Robin D. G. Kelley served on the faculty at Columbia University's Center for Jazz Studies, where he held the first Louis Armstrong Chair in Jazz Studies. Besides Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, Kelley has authored several prize-winning books, including Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (University of North Carolina Press, 1990); Race Rebels: Culture Politics and the Black Working Class (The Free Press, 1994); Yo' Mama's DisFunktional!: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America (Beacon Press, 1997), which was selected one of the top ten books of 1998 by the Village Voice. He is currently completing Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times (Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2011), and a general survey of African American history co-authored with Tera Hunter and Earl Lewis to be published by Norton.
Kelley's essays have appeared in several anthologies and journals, including The Nation, Monthly Review, The Voice Literary Supplement, New York Times (Arts and Leisure), New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Color Lines, Code Magazine, Utne Reader, Lenox Avenue, African Studies Review, Black Music Research Journal, Callaloo, New Politics, Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noir, One World, Social Text, Metropolis, American Visions, Boston Review, Fashion Theory, American Historical Review, Journal of American History, New Labor Forum, Souls, Metropolis, and frieze: contemporary art and culture, to name a few.
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This classic work, first
published in France in 1955, profoundly influenced the generation of
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Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Nearly twenty years later,
when published for the first time in English, Discourse on Colonialism
inspired a new generation engaged in the Civil Rights, Black Power, and
anti-war movements and has sold more than 75,000 copies to date.
Aimé Césaire eloquently describes the brutal impact of capitalism and
colonialism on both the colonizer and colonized, exposing the
contradictions and hypocrisy implicit in western notions of "progress"
and "civilization" upon encountering the "savage," "uncultured," or
"primitive." Here, Césaire reaffirms African values, identity, and
culture, and their relevance, reminding us that "the relationship
between consciousness and reality are extremely complex. . . . It is
equally necessary to decolonize our minds, our inner life, at the same
time that we decolonize society." An interview with Césaire by the poet
René Depestre is also included.
The Alabama Communist Party was made up of working people without a Euro-American radical political tradition: devoutly religious and semiliterate black laborers and sharecroppers, and a handful of whites, including unemployed industrial workers, housewives, youth, and renegade liberals. In this book, Robin D. G. Kelley reveals how the experiences and identities of these people from Alabama's farms, factories, mines, kitchens, and city streets shaped the Party's tactics and unique political culture. The result was a remarkably resilient movement forged in a racist world that had little tolerance for radicals.
After discussing the book's origins and impact in a new preface written for this twenty-fifth-anniversary edition, Kelley reflects on what a militantly antiracist, radical movement in the heart of Dixie might teach contemporary social movements confronting rampant inequality, police violence, mass incarceration, and neoliberalism.
But this decline is only part of the story. Since 1970, the black community has resisted oppression, struggled for power, dealt with internal tensions and conflicts, and profoundly shaped American culture. This book explores a range of issues that the African American community faces in the late 20th century: the rebirth of black nationalism, the emergence of a new black conservative movement, the challenge of black feminism, the impact of Caribbean immigration, the rise of rap music and hip-hop culture. It looks at the impact on African American life of such diverse personalities as Roy Innis, Toni Morrison, Anita Hill, Jimi Hendrix, Louis Farrakhan, Angela Davis, Spike Lee, Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, and Jesse Jackson, among others. Into the Fire will challenge and be challenged by readers of all ages, and calls on our young people to exercise their power to determine the outcome of chapters yet to be written in the history of African Americans.
In the streets and in the courts, a new generation of black activists--including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, writers James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison, and baseball legend Jackie Robinson--forced the federal government to admit that segregation was wrong and must be remedied. Their efforts paid off. In the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 decision upholding legal segregation. Americans could no longer easily avoid the implications of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s central message: "If democracy is to live segregation must die." By 1964, African Americans had much to be optimistic about. Protests in Birmingham and Mississippi and the much publicized murders of civil rights activists forced Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed segregation in public accommodations of every kind throughout the country.
The civil rights movement freed all African Americans to move beyond protest and to take charge themselves. The Black Power movement, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the urban rebellions--all contributed to the transformation of American politics and the role of black Americans in the life of the nation. African Americans did indeed change the world, but only after a long struggle that began when the first Africans arrived in this country. It is a struggle that continues to this day.
From poisoned water and police violence in our cities, to gun massacres and hate-mongering on the presidential campaign trail, evidence that America is at war with itself is everywhere around us. The question is not whether or not it's happening, but how to understand the forces at work in order to prevent conditions from getting worse. Henry A. Giroux offers a powerful, far-reaching critique of the economic interests, cultural dimensions, and political dynamics involved in the nation's shift toward increasingly abusive forms of power. His analysis helps us to frame critical questions about what can and should be done to turn things around while we can.
Reflecting on a wide range of social issues, Giroux contrasts Donald Trump's America with Sandra Bland's to understand who really benefits from politically fueled intolerance for immigrants, communities of color, Muslims, low-income families, and those who challenge state and corporate power. A passionate advocate for civil rights and the importance of the imagination, Giroux argues that only through widespread social investment in democracy and education can the common good hope to prevail over the increasingly concentrated influence of extreme right-wing politicians and self-serving economic interests.
Praise for America at War with Itself:
"This is the book Americans need to read now. No one is better than Henry Giroux at analyzing the truly dangerous threats to our society. He punctures our delusions and offers us a compelling and enlightened vision of a better way. America at War with Itself is the best book of the year."Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and former Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times
"In this current era of corporate media misdirection and misinformation, America at War with Itself is a must read for all Americans, especially young people. Henry Giroux is one of the few great political voices of today, with powerful insight into the truth. Dr. Giroux is defiantly explaining, against the grain, what's REALLY going on right now, and doing so quite undeniably. Simply put, the ideas he brings forth are a beacon that need to be seen and heard and understood in order for the world to progress."Julian Casablancas
"In America at War with Itself, Henry Giroux again proves himself one of North America’s most clear-sighted radical philosophers of education, culture and politics: radical because he discards the chaff of liberal critique and cuts to the root of the ills that are withering democracy. Giroux also connects the dots of reckless greed, corporate impunity, poverty, mass incarceration, racism and the co-opting of education to crush critical thinking and promote a culture that denigrates and even criminalizes civil society and the public good. His latest work is the antidote to an alarming tide of toxic authoritarianism that threatens to engulf America. The book could not be more timely."Olivia Ward, Toronto Star
"America at War with Itself makes the case for real ideological and structural change at a time when the need and stakes could not be greater. Everyone who cares about the survival and revival of democracy needs to read this book.”Kenneth Saltman, Professor, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Author of The Failure of Corporate School Reform
Henry A. Giroux's most recent books include The Violence of Organized Forgetting and America's Addiction to Terrorism.