Yo' Mama's Disfunktional!

Robin D. G. Kelley, Author Beacon Press (MA) $22 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8070-0740-2
At a time when conservatives and liberals alike seem prone to defining the urban underclass as a problem and then proposing murky solutions based on stereotypes, Kelley's (Race Rebels) eloquent book appears as a blast of common sense. He demonstrates how misunderstandings of black culture have contributed to unrealistic policy decisions, doubtful scholarship and misguided activism. Beginning with an exploration of the ""dozens,"" i.e., surreal humor (""Your mama's so dumb she thought ring-around-the-collar was a children's game""), Kelley shows how sociological theorists effectively ignored the playfulness of the art form and reduced it to analyses that fit their own agendas. After using this example of how black culture has been dissected and classified beyond recognition, he then critiques current literature on the subject, lambastes narrow-minded politicians and proffers suggestions for improving general public perception of the urban underclass. Kelley's arguments are persuasive and well researched; even when politician bashing, he focuses on ways to improve conditions for everyone. His sharp insights and incisive commentary make this important reading not just for those interested in cultural theory, but for anyone who appreciates vibrant political commentary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 232 pages - 978-0-8070-0958-1
Hardcover - 978-0-8070-0940-6
Paperback - 225 pages - 978-0-8070-0941-3
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