An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States

Kyle T. Mays. Beacon, $27.95 (280p) ISBN 978-0-8070-1168-3
Mays (Hip Hop Beats, Indigenous Rhymes), a professor of African American studies and American Indian studies at UCLA, delivers an accessible and informative look at “the links, both solidarities and tensions, between people of African descent and Indigenous peoples in the United States.” He notes that enslaved African labor and expropriated Indigenous land fueled the nation’s rapid rise in the 18th and 19th centuries, and explains how the ideology of white settler colonialism shaped the ways in which Black and Indigenous peoples viewed each other. For instance, Black civil rights leaders including W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and James Baldwin espoused the need for progress for marginalized peoples while perpetuating the myth of the vanishing Native American, according to Mays. In the 1960s and ’70s, the Black Power and Red Power movements brought Black and Indigenous peoples together in protest and gave rise to cross-cultural appreciation, which continues in the contemporary Black Lives Matter and Natives Lives Matters movements. Mays’s colloquial voice (he refers to Du Bois as “a bad dude”) enlivens the often-distressing history, and he draws on his Black and Saginaw Chippewa ancestry to buttress his call for greater solidarity between African Americans and Native Americans. This immersive revisionist history sheds light on an overlooked aspect of the American past. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/03/2021
Release date: 11/02/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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