RECENTLY WE ASKED SIX AFRO -AMERICANISTS TO TELL US ABOUT THE MOST PROVOCATIVE AND IMPORTANT BOOK PUBLISHED DURING THE PAST YEAR IN THEIR FIELD. HERE ARE SOME OF THEIR RESPONSES:
Hazel V. Carby, professor of English and of African and African-American Studies, Yale University; author of Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (1987): Gerald Early, Tuxedo Junction: Essays on American Culture (Ecco, 1989). Carby calls it "a very perceptive collection of essays about racial ideologies at work in popular culture and everyday life."
Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy, Duke University; author of In My Father's House: Essays in the Politics of African Cultures: Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed., Reading Black, Reading Feminist: A Literary Critical Anthology (New American Library, 1990). "I think the intersection of black studies and women's studies is going to be very important over the coming years," says Appiah, "and this is a collection of representative and excellent work in that intersection, with pieces by all the major people working in black feminist thought."
Shelby Steele, professor of English, San Jose State University; author of The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America (1990): Stanley Crouch, Notes of a Hanging Judge: Essays and Reviews, 1979-1988 (Oxford University Press, 1990). "I think it represents a new angle on black American culture, says Steele. "It takes a revisionist position on some icons like Toni Morrison and Spike Lee, and I found what he has to say very fresh and insightful."
Robert L. Harris, Jr., director of Cornell University's Africana Studies and Research Center; author of Teaching Afro-American History (1985): Darlene Clark Hine, Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890-1950 (Indiana University Press, 1989). Harris observes: "To me, this was a milestone in reclaiming the voice of black women and their role in the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality, while illuminating the intersection of race, class, and gender in the development and professionalization of nursing."
Carolivia Herron, professor of English and teacher of Afro-American literature, Mount Holyoke College: Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography (Simon & Schuster, 1989): "What I liked is that it's very honest about the kind of hell people have to go through to make this music. For a change, it doesn't leave things out; it 5 not a vision of the artist as someone above everyone else but as someone who speaks the same language, confronts the same issues of how do you get along with the white folks." Herron also mentioned a record, Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet. "I use it in my course to discuss the attack on the black male in the United States and the ways in which the censorship of rap has restricted our freedom of speech. Most popular music is trash in terms of art; but this isn't, and that's also why I use it."
Russell L. Adams, chair of the Afro-American Studies Department, Howard University: Talmadge Anderson, ed., Black Studies: Theory, Method and Cultural Perspectives (Washington State University Press, 1990). "This anthology is the best attempt to explain what Afro-American studies is and what it is not. It's a collection of the strongest articles from the last five or six years and an overview of the field. And now that people are so uptight about Afrocentrism, this ought to ease them down a bit"
Are there any great books you think we missed? Let us know.