Race Rebels

Robin D. G. Kelley, Author Free Press $24.95 (351p) ISBN 978-0-02-916706-9
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.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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