When thirty-nine relatively ordinary, sane, unremarkable people decide to end their terrestrial lives for the purposes of seeking transcendence and truth, that is important. When they pen essays, videotape monologues, and issue press releases on their impending deaths, they mean to tell us something.
"Singer shows that while violent crime is rare, many a suburban teen is faltering. Delinquency and drug use are rampant and suicide tears at the social fabric. Simon Singer’s nuanced data and conceptualization of relational modernity provide a fresh perspective on the sources of delinquency in contemporary society."
—Robert J. Sampson, author of Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect
It’s obligatory: Every generation of adults must panic about kids and sex. In their new book Kids Gone Wild, Joel Best and Kathleen Bogle begin with quaint, bygone examples: a 1920s New York Times story in which mothers complained about “petting parties” and a 1950s book that warned girls against…
“I like women. When Mos Def in ‘Ms. Fatbooty’ is like ‘Ass so fat you can see it from the front.’ Damn, that’s an ass! That’s an ass I kinda wanna see. That’s an ass I appreciate. So I’m trying to figure out how do we talk about feminism in this case, or being a Black man who is pro-feminist who at the same time can acknowledge heterosexist desire. And that’s real. There’s a fine line between objectification of Black female sexuality and appreciation of it. So what do you do with ‘Baby Got Back’? Is Sir Mix-A-Lot objectifying Black women’s asses, or is he having a real conversation about the inherent beauty of Black women’s bodies in a society that has always derided Black women’s bodies as strange and unusual and ugly? Thank hip-hop for allowing us to have this conversation out in the open, hopefully in productive and progressive ways.”—
Mark Anthony Neal, on being, and being classified as, a Black male feminist — A Brand-New Feminism: A Conversation between Joan Morgan and Mark Anthony Neal
“I was once a linebacker-sized eighteen-year-old, too. What I knew then, what black people have been required to know, is that there are few things more dangerous than the perception that one is a danger.”—Jelani Cobbon Ferguson. (via newyorker)
“Activism is an engagement with the hauntings of history, a dialogue between the memories of the past and the imaginings of the future manifested through the acts of our own present yearnings. It is an encounter with the ghosts that reside within and inhabit the symbolic and geographic spaces that shape our worlds.”—Juana Maria Rodriguez, Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces
“‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is not a group of teenagers with cancer; it is a representation of teenagers with cancer. We are enraptured by it because it signifies suffering but it is not the real thing, giving us a vicarious ‘fantasy of witnessing’ tragedy. We insist that we are seeing heartbreak.”—Jodi Eichler-Levine, author of Suffer the Little Children
“While gay teachers may not ‘turn’ kids gay (just as my hetero parents failed to turn me hetero), can’t we also offer up the possibility that openly gay teachers (or neighbors or mothers or firefighters) may create environments that encourage expansive thinking about sexuality and gender?”—Suzanna Danuta Walters, author of The Tolerance Trap
So what is City of Promises? Many things, not the least quite beautiful and more than substantial: three volumes running to just over one thousand pages, deftly produced by New York University Press, with ample illustrations and snugly housed in an attractive slipcase suggesting care and stature…
Individually and collectively, the volumes mark
a new high in American urban, ethnic, and religious history. These are wonderful books, testaments to the best in American history. They deserve wide attention as reconstructions of a remarkable past and as models for many more like them.
”—A wonderful book review of City of Promises, our three-volume history of the Jews of New York, just appeared in the Journal of the American Jewish Archives! Read the full version here.
Most New Yorkers think of South Street Seaport as only a touristy shopping mall. But the real South Street Seaport is a historic district with three piers and 11 blocks…
James Lindgren, author of Preserving South Street Seaport(NYU Press, 2014), on why New Yorkers and the de Blasio administration need to step in and support the Seaport Museum and the district’s public space.
Zareena Grewal’s monograph Islam is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority (NYU Press, 2013), seamlessly interweaves ethnographic research with an in-depth historical perspective in order to yield an unparalleled account of American Muslims and…
Listen to this exclusive interview with author Zareena Grewal on the New Books Network!
Leg Over Leg: Finalist for Best Translated Book Award
We’re delighted to announce that Library of Arabic Literature’sLeg Over Leg, Volume 1 by Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, translated by Humphrey Davies is one of 10 finalists for the Best Translated Book Award in fiction! See the full list here.
Head on over to Three Percent to take a look back at the reasons “why these books should win,” according to the judges and other readers.
In asserting that gay, lesbian and bisexual citizens want rights such as pay equity, voting rights, and an end to discrimination in the workplace and judicial system—indeed, ‘full and deep integration and inclusion in the American dream’—[the author] makes it clear that tolerance is much too limited a goal.
An enlightening examination of identity and the quest for ‘deep freedom’ by a largely misunderstood and marginalized group.
So I’d like to make a suggestion to jettison the Firsts, Festivals, and Foods trio of Black History Month for a different style of learning about Black and American history. Kids learn who the First Black astronaut was, the First Black senator, and so forth. But what happens after the First? I suggest we do away with how we teach about ‘Firsts,’ and I’ll leave the Festivals and Foods to other, more creative minds.
When we focus on the Firsts, and not What Followed, we allow ourselves to be seduced by the silence in between milestones of Black History. If we do not look into the gaps between the Firsts, then we fail to see the ways that other individuals, institutions, and social practices worked—often quite deliberately—to crush the spirit of those Firsts, and to make it plain that Black people who wanted to follow in their footsteps would be met with massive resistance.
So I ask that we pair the question ‘What Followed and Why?’ with each First, to ensure that our students can understand the reasons why we still celebrate Firsts, why they remain rarities decades after slavery and Jim Crow.
What happened after Benjamin Banneker made plans for our nation’s capitol, the First Black engineer to be recognized as such by white folks? Why the gap in Black urban planners between Banneker and… well, I must admit I cannot bring to mind a famous Black urban planner. What stymied efforts to bring up generations of Bannekers to design welcoming, sustainable urban spaces to be shared by people of all colors? Why are so many urban areas still segregated, decades after the First Black mayors were elected?
Until we look closely at What Followed, and try to learn lessons from that part of our American history, our celebrations of Firsts will feel less festive and more frustrating as time goes by.