Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Jam on the Vine

This month we're reading Jam on the Vine, LaShonda Katrice Barnett's fascinating and gripping novel of life as a female African American journalist in the early 20th century. A perfect complement to the age of "intersectionality", Jam on the Vine features Muslim characters, gay and bi-sexual characters, and  feminist characters, unafraid to speak out and to be themselves. Like role model Ida B. Wells, Ivo and Ona, the heroines of  Jam on the Vine take on racism without apology. In her fictional newspaper, Ivoe boldly states:
  "Whitecappers, Ku Klux Klan, police, and lynchers beware! The black worm has turned. The United States has done much to stoke the embers of unrest. But a race that has furnished thousands of the best soldiers that the world has ever seen will no longer be content to turn the left cheek when smitten upon the right. Vigilante rule shall not prevail".

When we think of African Americans during this time period, we often  leap to stereotyped images of quivering terrified victims, or docile servants. It's good to be reminded that even during the worst of the Jim Crow years, "The Nadir" of African American life, there were courageous men, AND women who stood up to injustice and tyranny.

For a brilliant nonfiction take on the significance of African American Newspapers, read The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America.

See you May 17th! We've still got copies of Jam on the Vine at the 2nd floor desk.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Evanston Literary Festival Starts This Week

Welcome to the 2nd annual Evanston Literary Festival! Co sponsored by the Chicago Book Expo, Northwestern University's Creative Writing program, Bookends and Beginnings bookstore  and Evanston Public Library, the festival is bringing over 50 author readings, book discussions, exhibitions and other literary events to Evanston between May 4th and May 14th. Quite a few will be of interest to readers of African American themed literature...

"Writing American Race History Today"
 Saturday, May 7, 3 to 4:30 pm Bookends and Beginnings Bookstore 1712 Sherman Ave., Alley #1, 

Northwestern religion Professor Sylvester Johnson NU law professor and legal historian Steven Lubet discuss writing about America's racial past in light of today's controversies. How does an understanding of the past help us understand race relations in America today? And how do race relations today influence how historians research and write history? Professor Johnson's main area of study is African-American religion--see his African American Religions, 1500-2000 (Cambridge, 2015). Professor Lubet has written several books on slavery, abolitionism, and emancipation in mid-19th century America, among them Fugitive Justice: Runaways, Rescuers, and Slavery on Trial (Harvard, 2010). Their conversation will shed light on the turbulent past and the no less turbulent present in race relations in America.



"Writing From Life With Parneshia Jones, Megan Stielstra, and Ross Ritchell"

Saturday, May 7, 5 pm Bookends & Beginnings, 1712 Sherman Ave., Alley #1
The lines between “fact” and “fiction” are often blurred in literature, and the places where the two intersect can be both goldmine and minefield for writers. How do individual writers use life experiences in their work? Are some subject off-limits for publication? This event features a poet (Jones), a novelist (Ritchell), and an essayist (Stielstra) discussing these questions and reading from their works.



#LoveStories: A First Look Reading

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Sunday, May 8, 3-4:30 pm, Community Meeting Room, Evanston Public Library
Join us for a special sneak peek! Inspired by #BLACKLIVESMATTER  #LoveStories by Gloria Bond-Clunie, Marsha Estell and Tania Richard is a three part play exploring the breadth of love in a world of deadly conflict. This is a world premiere play commissioned by Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre.
Gloria Bond-Clunie is the founder of Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and an internationally recognized playwright. Marsha Estell is an accomplished actor and playwright; FJT produced her hit play Heat and her critically acclaimed one-woman play Big Butt Girls and Other Fantasies/The Remix. Tania Richard’s brilliant one-woman play Truth Be Told was commissioned and produced by FJT; she too is an accomplished actor and playwright.
Read more: #LoveStories: A First Look Reading 
 
 

Amina Gautier Reads from The Loss Of All Lost Things

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Monday, May 9, 7 pm, Community Meeting Room, Evanston Public Library
The fifteen stories in The Loss of All Lost Things explore the unpredictable ways in which characters negotiate, experience, and manage various forms of loss. They lose loved ones; they lose their security and self-worth; they lose children; they lose their ability to hide and shield their emotions; they lose their reputations, their careers, their hometowns, and their life savings. Often depicting the awkward moments when characters are torn between decision and outcome, The Loss of All Lost Things focuses on moments of regret and yearning.  


  Amina Gautier, PhD., is the author of three  short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy and the The Loss of All Lost Things. At-Risk was awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award, The First Horizon Award, and the Eric Hoffer Legacy Fiction Award. Now We Will Be Happy was awarded the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President's Book Award and a USA Best Book Award. The Loss of All Lost Things was awarded the Elixir Press Award in Fiction.


 An Evening of Storytelling and Sharing: Exploring Racism
Friday May 13th, 6 pm potluck, 7pm program Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave 

Professional storytellers Susan O'Halloran and Mama Edie Armstrong will tell their stories beginning at 7pm after a potluck supper in the Unitarian Church Sanctuary.







 

 





 

 

 

 

 

Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect: Police Violence and Resistance in the United States

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Saturday, May 14, 4 pm Community Meeting Room, Evanston Public Library

Contributors to the new Truthout essay collection, Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect?: Police Violence and Resistance in the United States—including Kelly Hayes, Sarah Macaraeg, Page May, Maya Schenwar, and Monica Trinidad—read from the book.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

African American culture and literature is strong in Evanston!

This spring we are experiencing a mini-Renaissance of African American cultural events here in Evanston...and much of it is at the Evanston Public Library! A few highlights I hope you'll attend...




A Celebration of Belizean Culture

Sunday, April 10, 3-5 pm, Community Meeting Room, Main Library
Belize Culture and Heritage Association (BCHA) in conjunction with the Evanston Public Library brings you an afternoon of fun-filled Belizean activities and treats. Join us for an array of folk songs, dance and childhood games and  come experience some of the savor/sweet treats of Belize. It’s bound to be a blast! So come out, bring the entire family and let us introduce you to Belize and all its beauty.





 

African Presence in Mexico

Sunday, April 17, 3 pm, Community Meeting Room, Main Library
Africa has had a long and extensive influence in Latin America, particularly in Mexico. From Yanga, the leader of the first successful slave revolt, to some of Mexico’s most famous heroes of independence, the African presence cannot be denied. Paulina Nava of the National Museum of Mexican Art  will trace the Moorish influence of Spain, to the African Diaspora in the Americas, and highlight some of Mexico's forgotten history. This lecture corresponds to the National Museum of Mexican Art’s 2006 national touring exhibition, The African Presence, and is part of the Big Read and Latino Americans 500 grant projects.

 



African American Literature Discussion: Negroland

Tuesday,  April 19, 7 pm, Small Meeting Room, Main Library
Born in upper-crust black Chicago, daughter of a pediatrician and a socialite, Margo Jefferson has spent most of her life among the "colored aristocracy" blue-vein society. Since the nineteenth century they have stood apart, these inhabitants of "Negroland", a small region of African America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty.
Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments--the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of postracial America--Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions.
Copies of Negroland will be held at the 2nd floor desk. Please register or call 847-448-8620 to get a copy.
For more information, including related  interviews, videos and other websites, see the AAL blog.

Check out our new monthly newsletter, African American Interest!



The Black Male Experience in Evanston: a Panel Discussion

Saturday, April 23, 4-6 pm, Community Meeting Room, Main Library
What is it like to be a Black male in Evanston? Join us in this panel discussion as we explore the history of the Black Male in Evanston, their current experience, as well as challenges and opportunities this poses for Evanston in the future. Come hear personal testimonies as well as what the latest research says of race relations among Evanston families, in our institutions, and across our communities. Share in exceptional stories of exceptional men whose experiences shed light and questions on race relations today. Panelists include Bennett Johnson, President, Path Press, Inc., Lionel Jean-Baptiste, Circuit Court Judge of Cook County, Dino Robinson, Founder of Shorefront and the Shorefront Legacy Center, Dereck Woods, 28-year volunteer coach of F.A.A.M. (Fellowship of Afro-American Men), and co-founder, Black Men Against Violence, and Nathan Norman, Youth/Young Adult Outreach Worker, City of Evanston Illinois Government.


Part of the Quality of Mercy Project, a three-month public programming initiative which invites our community to discuss the complex issues arising from the themes of Dead Man Walking, the play by Tim Robbins, adapted from the book by Sister Helen Prejean, playing at Piven Theatre Workshop April 16-May15. A collaborative effort of six key community partners: Piven Theatre Workshop, Chicago Innocence Center, Evanston Art Center, Evanston Twp High School, Literature for All of Us, and the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy.



Documentary: Whatever Happened to Idlewild?

Sunday, May 1, 3 - 5 pm, Community Meeting Room, Main Library
Once called “The Black Las Vegas,” Idlewild was a wondrous place where African Americans could vacation and relax during America’s segregated Jim Crow era. Idlewild was an incredibly vibrant community from the 1920s through 1960s, but it is now far from being the luxury haven that it once was. The documentary “Whatever Happened to Idlewild showcases the former “Black Eden” and proposes answers to what has come of the historical resort town. Following the screening of the film, we invite you to participate in a stimulating discussion led by director Coy Davis.
Cosponsored by Shorefront Legacy Center of Evanston.



#LoveStories: A First Look Reading

Sunday, May 8, 3-4:30 pm, Community Meeting Room, Main Library
Join us for a special sneak peek! Inspired by #BLACKLIVESMATTER  #LoveStories by Gloria Bond-Clunie, Marsha Estell and Tania Richard is a three part play exploring the breadth of love in a world of deadly conflict. This is a world premiere play commissioned by Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre.
Gloria Bond-Clunie is the founder of Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and an internationally recognized playwright. Marsha Estell is an accomplished actor and playwright; FJT produced her hit play Heat and her critically acclaimed one-woman play Big Butt Girls and Other Fantasies/The Remix. Tania Richard’s brilliant one-woman play Truth Be Told was commissioned and produced by FJT; she too is an accomplished actor and playwright. Part of the Evanston Literary Festival.

Part of the Quality of Mercy Project, a three-month public programming initiative which invites our community to discuss the complex issues arising from the themes of Dead Man Walking, the play by Tim Robbins, adapted from the book by Sister Helen Prejean, playing at Piven Theatre Workshop April 16-May15. A collaborative effort of six key community partners: Piven Theatre Workshop, Chicago Innocence Center, Evanston Art Center, Evanston Twp High School, Literature for All of Us, and the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy

This program is presented as part of the 2016 Evanston Literary Festival.


 
 

 

Amina Gautier Reads

Monday May 9th, 7:00 pm, Community Meeting Room, Main Library
The fifteen stories in The Loss of All Lost Things explore the unpredictable ways in which characters negotiate, experience, and manage various forms of loss. They lose loved ones; they lose their security and self-worth; they lose children; they lose their ability to hide and shield their emotions; they lose their reputations, their careers, their hometowns, and their life savings. Often depicting the awkward moments when characters are torn between decision and outcome, The Loss of All Lost Things focuses on moments of regret and yearning.

This program is presented as part of the 2016 Evanston Literary Festival.
 
Amina Gautier, PhD., is the author of three  short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy and the The Loss of All Lost Things. At-Risk was awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award, The First Horizon Award, and the Eric Hoffer Legacy Fiction Award. Now We Will Be Happy was awarded the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President's Book Award and a USA Best Book Award. The Loss of All Lost Things was awarded the Elixir Press Award in Fiction.
  

 

African American Literature Discussion: The Sellout

Tuesday, May 17, 7 pm, Main Library, Small Meeting Room
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality--the black Chinese restaurant.  Named one of the best books of 2015 by the New York Times Book Review and the Wall Street Journal.
Copies of The Sellout will be held at the 2nd floor desk. Please register or call 847-448-8620 to get a copy.
For more information, including related  interviews, videos and other websites, see the AAL blog.  
Check out our new monthly newsletter, African American Interest




 

Fathers and Daughters: My Soul to His Spirit




Sunday, June 12, 3 pm - 4:30 pm, Community Meeting Room, Main Library
Author Melda Beaty reads from her compilation of stories and letters written by African American girls and women to their fathers. It gives voice to the sentiments of love, pain, disappointment, fulfillment, betrayal, and confusion for a diverse group of black women as they chronicle a journey of healing and redemptive love towards their fathers. My Soul to His Spirit: Soulful Expressions from Black Daughters to Their Fathers won the 2006 National Fresh Voices Award.
Girls and women in the community are invited to share their own stories an writings about their fathers at this event.
Beaty is an author, playwright, college English professor, and writing consultant.  Her debut novel, Lime (2012), explores notions of beauty and bonds of friendship set against the horrors of domestic violence. Her current play, Front Porch Society, which was read at The National Black Theatre Festival, delves into the complex lives of four elderly black women in rural Mississippi Delta on the eve of the 2008 presidential election.
 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Land of Privilege: Margo Jefferson's Negroland

This month we're reading Negroland, Margo Jefferson's memoir of growing up light skinned, middle class and privileged in 1950s Chicago. She explains how despite the benefits of a comfortable lifestyle, she and members of her generation were under constant pressure to "uplift the race" not "show their color" or contaminate themselves by associating with lower class, often darker skinned African Americans.

In an interview with NPR's Fresh Air, Jefferson reveals that, ultimately, it was the Black Power movement that led her to question some of the tenets that she had grown up with: "Black Power was really a major challenge to the social privileges and structures of the kind of privilege that I had grown up with," she says. "That whole belief ... that you will only be able to advance if you are perfectly behaved, if you present yourself as what white people would consider an ideal of whiteness ... all of that just began to burst open."

Is the concept of "Negroland" a relic of the past, or do upper class African Americans still experience the  pressures Jefferson faced? And how strong is the class/color dividing line in 21st century Black America? We'll wrestle with these questions at our discussion on April 19th, 7:00 pm.

**Jefferson will be speaking as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival on April 30th . Her talk, accompanied by Darryl Pinckney, author of  Black Deutschland , is on "Style and the Black Bourgeoisie". Not to be missed!

Some books exploring similar terrain:

Black bourgeoisie by Franklin Frazier
The new Black middle class by Bart Landry
Two classic studies on black upward mobility and social culture.









Disintegration : the splintering of Black America by Eugene Robinson
Examines conflicts between 4 different subgroups within African American life: the "Abandoned" urban underclass; the "Mainstream" educated middle class; the super-rich, super elite "Transcendent"; and the "Emergent" population of mixed race and African/Caribbean immigrants.





 Looks at  the subtle forms of prejudice that black professionals endure: a black woman may be hired in public relations, but then whites will see the position as weak and nonintellectual; a black male lawyer hired to fill a quota may file brilliant briefs, but he'll be held back from a partnership. Written in 1993, but still pertinent.


Well, no one thinks Bill Cosby is right about anything these days, but this remains a provocative look at the "Afristocracy" and their disdain for low income urban Black Americans.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Oyeyemi's Racially Reimagined Fairy Tale

Greeting! Can't believe it's been nearly 3 months since I last posted! Thanks to everyone who attended the combined KeepintiReal/AAL discussion of My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me, the gripping memoir by Jennifer Teege, an African/German woman who accidentally discovered that her  father was the Nazi commandant from Schindler's List.




For March, we are back to fiction with Boy Snow Bird, Helen Oyeyemi 's  "gloriously unsettling" re-working of the Snow White. In a small town in the mid-50s, the birth of a dark skinned baby girl unravels a marriage, a family and a town; and a young mother finds herself becoming the "evil stepmother" she never imagined she could be. Join us for the discussion next Tuesday March 15th at 7:00pm! We have copies available at the 2nd floor desk: call 847-448-8620 to reserve yours.


Some new books of interest...


Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith
Sports historians Roberts and Smith  delve deeply into the little-known intricacies and tragic consequences of the close bond between the mentoring Nation of Islam minister Malcolm X and the young boxer Cassius Clay. As the authors tell the gripping personal stories of these two passionate revolutionaries and seekers, they cover Clay's genius for audacious self-promotion and strategic self-concealment, and Malcolm X's dream of resolving his increasingly dire conflict with the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad by bringing Clay and his burgeoning international fame fully into the fold. Vividly set within the coalescing civil rights movement, this incisive anatomy of a fatal friendship turns on the bitter irony that Clay, soon to become Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X became brothers in spirit by virtue of their shared insistence on equality and freedom in a racist society, only to be drawn to the Nation of Islam, which betrayed and terrorized them both, forcing them apart and ultimately murdering Malcolm X. Roberts and Smith portray both of these courageous and controversial, inspired and inspiring men with fresh, stinging clarity, and extend our perception of the interconnectivity of race, religion, sports, and media during this violent and transformative era, which is so very germane today.


The Defender: How The Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America, by Ethan Michaeli.
The 2nd Baptist Men's group will be reading this in June, but now is your chance to get a head start! As you may remember from reading The Warmth of Other Suns, The Chicago Daily Defender played a key role in spreading hope to African American residents of the Deep South during the Great Migration; letting them know about job opportunities, and keeping them in touch with friends and relatives how had moved north.For decades, it has chronicled Chicago, and indeed national black society offering an alternative perspective on the issues of the day. Micaheli's book is the first comprehensive history of this iconic newspaper.

Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution has Created a New American Majority , by Steve Phillips
A manifesto to those seeking to change the way politics plays out in America today. 51 percent of eligible voters in America today are progressive people of color and progressive whites. Phillips has a background in both politics and law, and here he lays out reasons why white politicians (mainly calling out the whole of the Democratic party) have stalled in producing effective social change stemming from the progressive movement's failure to utilize this new and diverse eligible voting majority. The book pulls no punches (there's a chapter titled, "Fewer Smart-Ass White Boys") but is ultimately hopeful.  This slim yet jam-packed call to action will be in demand, both because Phillips is a popular pundit and because the time is ripe for an upheaval in politics-as-usual.




  It has been only a few months since Ta-Nehisi Coates struck the American nerve, in Between the World and Me, by pointing out that our racial history is more deeply ingrained in racism than Gunnar Myrdal suggested. Here Princeton scholar Glaude adds to that debate by equating our racist history to a basic gap in values, the notion that black lives matter less in this country and always have. He proves his point cogently, perhaps with less passion than Coates but with more than enough documentation to move the argument along this new and painful track. This is every bit as important a book as Coates' more personal account.


The Other Blacklist: The African American Literacy and Cultural Left of the 1950s, by Mary Helen Washington

Considering that any effort to achieve racial equality was viewed as subversive in the Cold War era, is it any wonder that so many black artists and writers were viewed as Communists? Yet very little has been written about the black artists and writers who were surveilled, investigated, and blacklisted because of their beliefs and their work. Literary scholar Washington remedies that neglect with this engrossing look at six artists: novelist and essayist Lloyd L. Brown, visual artist Charles White, playwright and novelist Alice Childress, poet and novelist Gwendolyn Brooks, novelist Frank London Brown, and novelist and activist Julian Mayfield.. Though some were Communist Party members and others not, they were all drawn to the Left's appreciation of black folk culture and support for the ideal of self-determination, themes that figured prominently in their work.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Gays in the African American Community

Hope those who celebrate had a Merry Christmas and a Happy Kwanzaa! And I hope everyone is looking forward to a fabulous New Year's Eve and 2016.


On Tuesday January 19th, please join me for our discussion of E. Lynn Harris' controversial I Say a Little Prayer. Harris, who died  unexpectedly in 2009 at age 54, was a publishing phenomenon: by the time of his death he had  had 10 consecutive books on the New York Times best-seller list, and had sold 4 million copies of his novels.

Harris's work was notable for its upwardly mobile African American characters, many of whom were gay or bisexual. I Say a Little Prayer looks at an issue of continuing relevance: the role of gay men and women in  the black church. Chauncey Greer is a believer, a faithful member of his local church, and a mostly out gay man. Although he is accepted by his pastor, when Bishop Upchurch, a conservative televangelist shows up, Chauncey and the other gay congregants decide to take a stand against Upchurch's anti-gay preaching and politics.

Here's what surprised me about this book; although there is definitely some homophobia, and a lot of hypocrisy about sexuality in general, there is a lot more acceptance of gayness than I would have expected. Chauncey's co-workers, sister and pastor all know that he's gay, and don't have a problem with it. His parents aren't thrilled, but they continue to support and love their son. When the church music director organizes a "Day of Absence" for churchgoing gays and gay supporters, over a thousand people participate.

It's this complex portrait of the contemporary black community that made Harris so popular. Rather than the competing stereotypes of African Americans as either sex crazed thugs or  mindlessly emotional holy rollers, Harris' characters embody both spirituality and sensuality. There are plenty of sexy characters in Harris' books, and most of them are sincerely devout churchgoers.I think Harris' world reflects the nuanced reality of African American life in the 21st century far more accurately than many supposedly "mainstream" writers.

Agree? Disagree? Let's talk about it on January 19th! We've still got a couple of copies here at the 2nd floor desk, and it's a quick read. Hope to see you soon!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Black Colleges, Black Panthers and Black Broadway

Great discussion of The Turner House Tuesday night! Sadly, Angela Flournoy did not win the National Book Award for fiction Wednesday, although Ta Nehisi Coates did win for nonfiction!

Some news...

Our next meeting won't be until January 19th, when we'll be discussing E. Lynn Harris' I Say a Little Prayer. Copies have already begun arriving, (sadly, they did not get here in time for our discussion Tuesday.) We have copies on hold for AAL at the 2nd floor desk; call us at 847-448-8620 or just stop by.

I often run across books which would make great discussions, but there just aren't enough copies in the library system to do it. Here are a few recent titles I highly recommend...

Where everybody looks like me : at the crossroads of America's Black colleges and culture
Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, have long been the bedrock of black culture, graduating heroes like Toni Morrison, Thurgood Marshall,  Oprah Winfrey, and Martin Luther King Jr. But the 104 HBCUs are under siege: funding cuts have forced universities to send home thousands of students, dozens of college presidents have been ousted from their jobs, criminal investigations have been launched, conservative legislators have schemed to shut down schools, and overworked faculty have feuded with bureaucrats. Chronicling this near breaking point for black colleges, Where everybody looks like me presents a compelling, tightly woven story of the challenges faced by HBCUs.


In this comprehensive history of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (ILBPP), Chicago native Jakobi Williams demonstrates that the city's Black Power movement was both a response to and an extension of the city's civil rights movement. Williams focuses on the life and violent death of charismatic leader Fred Hampton,  who served as president of the NAACP Youth Council and continued to pursue a civil rights agenda when he became chairman of the revolutionary Chicago-based Black Panther Party. Framing the story of Hampton and the ILBPP as a social and political history and using, for the first time, sealed secret police files in Chicago and interviews conducted with often reticent former members of the ILBPP, Williams explores how Hampton helped develop racial coalitions between the ILBPP and other local activists and organizations.Williams also recounts the history of the original Rainbow Coalition, an alliance of working class blacks, Latinos, and white Southerners, to show how the Panthers worked to create an anti-racist, anti-class coalition to fight urban renewal, political corruption, and police brutality.
In this timely new book, Tim Wise explores how Barack Obama's emergence as a political force is taking the race debate to new levels. According to Wise, for many white people, Obama's rise signifies the end of racism as a pervasive social force; they point to Obama not only as a validation of the American ideology that anyone can make it if they work hard, but also as an example of how institutional barriers against people of color have all but vanished. But is this true? And does a reinforced white belief in color-blind meritocracy potentially make it harder to address ongoing institutional racism? After all, in housing, employment, the justice system, and education, the evidence is clear: white privilege and discrimination against people of color are still operative and actively thwarting opportunities, despite the success of individuals like Obama. Is black success making it harder for whites to see the problem of racism, thereby further straining race relations, or will it challenge anti-black stereotypes to such an extent that racism will diminish and race relations improve?


 Broadway musicals are one of America's most beloved art forms and play to millions of people each year. But what do these shows, which are often thought to be just frothy entertainment, really have to say about our country and who we are as a nation? The Great White Way reveals the racial politics, content, and subtexts that have haunted musicals from Show Boat (1927) to The Scottsboro Boys (2011).   Presented chronologically, The Great White Way shows how perceptions of race altered over time and how musicals dealt with those changes.  New archival research on the creators who produced and wrote these shows, including Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, and Edward Kleban, will have theater fans rethinking  how they view this popular American entertainment.