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Following the trail blazed by Norman Mailer’s controversial essay “The White Negro,” Everything but the Burden brings together voices from music, popular culture, the literary world, and the media speaking about how from Brooklyn to the Badlands white people are co-opting black styles of music, dance, dress, and slang. In this collection, the essayists examine how whites seem to be taking on, as editor Greg Tate’s mother used to tell him, “everything but the burden”–from fetishizing black athletes to spinning the ghetto lifestyle into a glamorous commodity. Is this a way of shaking off the fear of the unknown? A flattering indicator of appreciation? Or is it a more complicated cultural exchange? The pieces in Everything but the Burden explore the line between hero-worship and paternalism.
Among the book’s twelve essays are Vernon Reid’s “Steely Dan Understood as the Apotheosis of ‘The White Negro,’” Carl Hancock Rux’s “The Beats: America’s First ‘Wiggas,’” and Greg Tate’s own introductory essay “Nigs ’R Us.”
Everything But the Burden is a cogent and important collection of essays which address, with searing honesty, the racial exchanges and dilemmas which face contemporary America. These essays should be read by students of American Studies, African-American Studies, and Race Issues."
"How does the majority, dominant, power-holding culture appropriate elements of the disenfranchised minority culture? In myriad ways, according to this collection of new essays edited by Village Voice writer Tate. From Picasso and Pollock to Steely Dan and Eminem, the white imitation of black ways has profoundly "colored" Western culture. Despite the book's subtitle, this work is as much about the varied emotional and intellectual responses of black thinkers to this phenomenon as it is about cultural appropriation per se. Ranging from Hilton Als to Jonathan Lethem, the contributors include professors, artists, musicians, and writers, and their essays embrace research (on the Left and the "Negro Question"), theory (on the primal history of thugs), and personal reflection (whether an impassioned account of sexual jealousy or reserved observations on James Brown and Malian youth), plus snippets of verse and drama....Recommended...."--Library Journal
"Overall, the essays are well written, entertaining, and provocative, the most effective being those that deal with personal experiences....Recommended."--CHOICE Magazine
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. “Eminem: The New White Negro” by Carl Hancock-Rux
2. “Umkovu” by Eisa Davis
3. “Reds, Whites and Blues People” by Robin Kelley
4. “Pimp Notes on Autonomy” by Beth Coleman
5. “Thug Gods: Spiritual Darkness and Hip-Hop” by Melvin Gibbs
6. “Yoked in Gowanus” by Jonathan Lethem
7. “The New Mythology Began Without Me” by Michael C. Ladd
8. “Steely Dan: Understood as the Redemption of the White Negro” a conversation between Greg Tate and Vernon Reid
9. A Pryor Love: The Life and Times of America’s Comic Prophet of Race” by Hilton Als
10. “The Beautiful Ones” by Michaela Angela Davis
11. “Skinned” by Cassandra Lane
12. “Ali, Foreman, Mailer and Me” by Tony Green
13. “The 1960s in Bamako: Malick Sidibe and James Brown” by Manthia Diawara
14. “The Black Asianphile in Me: A Meditation of the Irregular Kind” by Latasha Natasha Diggs
15. “Afro-Kinky Human Hair” by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
16. “Captive Herstories” by Danzy Senna
17. “Affection Affliction: My Alien-My Self and More ‘Reading at Work’” by Renee Green
18. “My Black Death” by Arthur Jafa