Dreaming Blackness: Black Nationalism and African American Public Opinion

Dreaming Blackness: Black Nationalism and African American Public Opinion

Dreaming Blackness: Black Nationalism and African American Public Opinion

Dreaming Blackness: Black Nationalism and African American Public Opinion

Synopsis

Black Nationalism is one of the oldest and most enduring ideological constructs developed by African Americans to make sense of their social and political worlds. In Dreaming Blackness, Melanye T. Price explores the current understandings of Black Nationalism among African Americans, providing a balanced and critical view of today's black political agenda. She argues that Black Nationalism continues to enjoy moderate levels of support by most black citizens but has a more difficult time gaining a larger stronghold because of increasing diversity among blacks and a growing emphasis on individualism over collective struggle. She shows that black interests are a dynamic negotiation among various interested groups and suggests that those differences are not just important for the "black agenda" but also for how African Americans think and dialogue about black political questions daily.

Using a mix of everyday talk and impressive statistical data to explain contemporary black opinions, Price highlights the ways in which Black Nationalism works in a "post-racial" society. Ultimately, Price offers a multilayered portrait of African American political opinions, providing a new understanding of race specific ideological views and their impact on African Americans, persuasively illustrating that Black Nationalism is an ideology that scholars and politicians should not dismiss.

Excerpt

In the summer after I completed middle school, I got on a school bus everyday and traveled for an hour each way to one of the most prestigious private schools in Houston for a math and science program. During those rides, my friends and I traded stories, frustrations (of having to go to volunteer summer school), gossip, and music. On one of those many trips, my classmate Travis insisted that we all listen to his new rap tape, which he assured us would rock our worlds. the group, shouting over heavy bass lines and guitar licks, turned out to be Public Enemy, and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back was the album. It was the first time I had ever heard them, and I was overpowered by the bombardment of sound and concepts. As lead singer Chuck D forcefully expelled rhymes about Black Nationalism and community uplift in rapidfire succession, I was struck by the power of the verses. Over the next few years, Public Enemy’s albums served, for many young African Americans, as political courses composed of folk knowledge and black history with Chuck D cast as the primary instructor. Through melodic prose and storytelling, Public Enemy introduced me to black intellectuals (Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Ida B. Wells), African American history (slavery and its consequences, lynching, racial profiling), and, most importantly, political empowerment strategies (community control of institutions, boycotts, riots, armed struggle, expatriation).

Public Enemy talked about black oppression, community solidarity, and the consequences of stark inequality—concepts that were, in many ways, embodied in the very endeavor we were engaged in that summer. Students in the program represented all sections of the city and every racial minority group; however, my particular bus shuttled poor and moderate-income black public school students from the southeast side to an affluent, white enclave on the west side. During that summer the veil of privilege parted, and we were allowed to temporarily exist in the world of elite education where secondary schools had entire science wings and . . .

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