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Achieving Blackness: Race, Black Nationalism, and Afrocentrism in the Twentieth Century [Kindle Edition]

Algernon Austin

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"Beautifully written, this truly is a groundbreaking piece of work and will have a major impact on the field." - David N. Pellow, author of Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago"


Achieving Blackness offers an important examination of the complexities of race and ethnicity in the context of black nationalist movements in the United States. By examining the rise of the Nation of Islam, the Black Power Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and the “Afrocentric era” of the 1980s through 1990s Austin shows how theories of race have shaped ideas about the meaning of “Blackness” within different time periods of the twentieth-century. Achieving Blackness provides both a fascinating history of Blackness and a theoretically challenging understanding of race and ethnicity.

Austin traces how Blackness was defined by cultural ideas, social practices and shared identities as well as shaped in response to the social and historical conditions at different moments in American history. Analyzing black public opinion on black nationalism and its relationship with class, Austin challenges the commonly held assumption that black nationalism is a lower class phenomenon. In a refreshing and final move, he makes a compelling argument for rethinking contemporary theories of race away from the current fascination with physical difference, which he contends sweeps race back to its misconceived biological underpinnings. Achieving Blackness is a wonderful contribution to the sociology of race and African American Studies.


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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.0 von 5 Sternen  2 Rezensionen
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Most compelling book I've read this year! 29. Mai 2006
Von AfroAmericanHeritage - Veröffentlicht auf
Algernon Austin, founder and director of the Thora Institute, is a sociologist who goes after "common knowledge" about black Americans with the facts, the data, and the studies.

In this thought-provoking work, he persuasively argues that "races are social creations," developed at particular times in history to address specific political and economic situations. He says once the idea of race exists - that is, once people believe in, and therefore see, racial differences - those differences become "a tool that can be used in new or redefined situations of conflict." One need only look at the changing definitions used by the US census to see how fluid definitions of "race" can be.

A good portion is devoted to establishing working definitions of terms like "ethnicity" and "cultural nationalism," all of which also seem to be rather fluid among scholars.

Of course, the idea that race is socially constructed is not new. But he carries it a step further by examining how race is understood and plays out in social dynamics through an analysis of "blackness" in the Twentieth Century. He begins by exploring the Asiatic self-identity of the "first" Nation of Islam, then moves to the Black Power Era when "Negroes" were transformed to "Blacks," and informally enforced norms shamed "white" black people into acting more like "black" black people. The final case study is the Afrocentric Era of the 1980's-'90's, which drew upon a rather mythical version of Africa as a source of black self-esteem and which, he argues, reflected conservative American thought in that it blamed "a culture of poverty" rather than political/economic/social structures for the woes of the "black underclass." (Which, incidentally, he argues is overestimated.)

This book is engagingly written from start to finish, and, since he draws upon - and often debunks - views of other scholars, I felt like I was eavesdropping at a symposium which grew heated at times. My reading was enhanced by visiting The Thora Institute's website, which disseminates facts and analyses about black Americans and where Professor Austin publishes a new article every Monday. I must confess, his faith in "data" and "studies" is stronger than mine (as my grandpa used to say, "Figgers don't lie, but liars figger") but I also must confess this is the most compelling reading I've done this year. No brief review could do it justice, so I highly recommend you read the book and visit The Thora Institute. thorainstitute dot com
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen An interesting but orthodox analysis of racial concepts 12. Mai 2008
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Using Black nationalism as the context, Dr. Austin's book considers some of the problematic aspects of prevailing sociological theories of race within academia. It is a rather orthodox deconstruction of racial theories that doesn't cover any new ground in the discussion of race or Black identity. It does, however, provide a fascinating and succinct history of Black nationalism.
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