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Oxford University Press, USA
Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture

Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture

by Michael Eric Dyson
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A former welfare father from the ghetto of Detroit, Michael Eric Dyson is today a critic, scholar, and ordained Baptist minister who has forged a unique role: he is a compelling spokesman for the concerns of the black community, and also a leader who has a genuine rapport with that community, particularly with urban youth. In his essays, lectures, sermons, and books, he has emerged as one of the leading African-American voices of our day.
Dyson's passion for contemporary black culture informs Between God and Gangsta' Rap, his latest foray into the ongoing debate about African-American identity which embraces the hopes of the church and the cool reality of hip-hop. Bringing together writings on music, religion, politics, and identity, and offering a multi-faceted view of black life, the book charts the progress of Dyson's own soul, from his roots in the Detroit ghetto, to his current status as a Baptist minister, professor, cultural critic, husband, and father. Dyson opens with a letter to his brother, who is serving life in prison on a murder charge. This painful piece reveals a violence in the author's own family that sets the tone for themes that will emerge throughout these writings: violence on the black body and soul; the redemptive power of hope through school, church, and family; sexuality as a source of anguish and of joy; and the struggle with entrenched white racism. There is a section of wonderful profiles Dyson calls "Testimonials"--studies of black men, from O.J. Simpson to Marion Barry, and from Baptist preacher Gardner Taylor to Michael Jordan and Sam Cooke. In "Obsessed with O.J.," Dyson offers an extremely personal and insightful series of reflections on the case. In "Lessons," Dyson takes up the subjects of politics and racial identity. Newt Gingrich and moral panic, Quabiliah Shabazz, Carol Moseley Braun, the NAACP, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X all figure in these insightful and accessible pieces. And "Songs of Celebration" draws from Dyson's writings for the popular press such as Rolling Stone and Vibe, and explores the joys and pitfalls of black expression, from the black vernacular bible to gospel music, R & B, and hip-hop. Dyson concludes with an essay framed as a letter to his wife, which offers a positive counterbalance to the opening address to his brother. The letter serves as a tribute to the redemptive powers of love, the black family, spirit, and change.
Arguing that the richness of black culture today can be found in the interstices--between god and gangsta' rap--Dyson charts the progress and pain of African Americans over the past decade, showing that brilliance and beauty, pain and drudgery are components of this changing culture. As a compendium of his thinking about contemporary culture Between God and Gangsta' Rap will find a wide audience among black and white readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195115697
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 01/01/1997
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,217,131
Product dimensions: 7.88(w) x 5.19(h) x 0.71(d)

About the Author

Michael Eric Dyson is an ordained Baptist minister, Director of the Institute of African-American Research, and Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of the widely acclaimed Reflecting Black: African-American Cultural Criticism, and Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X. His most recent publication is race Rules: Navigating the Color Line.

Table of Contents

Invocation: Letter to My Brother, Everett, in Prison
I Testimonials: The Joys and Concerns of Black Men's Lives
Obsessed with O. J.: Meditations on an American Tragedy
Gardner Taylor: The Poet Laureate of the American Pulpit
Crossing Over Jordan
The Soul of Sam Cooke
The Lives of Black Men
Marion Barry and the Politics of Redemption
II Lessons: Politics of/and Identity
Moral Panic or Civic Virtue?
A Daughter's Pain, a Father's Legacy
The NAACP and Black America
Carol Moseley-Braun and the Politics of Hope
King's Light, Malcolm's Shadow
Race and the Myth of Black Purity
Blacks and Jews on Stage
Portrait of the Black Family
Screening the Black Panthers
III Songs of Celebration
Shakespeare and Smokey Robinson: Revisiting the Culture Wars
Minstrelsy of Ministry?
Everyday Is Sunday
Mariah Carey and "Authentic" Black Music
Old School Love: Chante Moore and Tony Terry
Crossing Over Without Going Under: Luther, Anita, and Vanessa
A Day in the Life of Black Culture: A List
Hip-Hop and the Bad Rap: Hammer and Vanilla Ice
Public Enemy: Rap's Prophets of Rage
Ice Cube: Gangsta Rap's Visionary
Gangsta Rap and American Culture
Benediction: Letter to My Wife Marcia
Index 211(8)
Copyright Credits 219

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