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9780393319781

Black Genius: African-American Solutions to African-American Problems

Spike Lee; Melvin Van Peebles; George Curry; Angela Davis; Bell Hooks; Jocelyn Elders

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9780393319781: Black Genius: African-American Solutions to African-American Problems

Thirteen of black America's most eloquent voices share their visions for a self-sufficient, self-determined future.

From Spike Lee's encouragement of independent, community fundraising to Joycelyn Elders's warning about the failings of our "sick-care" system to Stanley Crouch's disputation on "heroic" versus "anarchic" individuality, Black Genius is an exceptional, unique colloquy. Conceived by acclaimed novelist Walter Mosley and sponsored by the New York University Africana Studies Program and the Institute of African American Affairs, this book originated as a series of community conversations where "visionaries with solutions" shared powerful views on personal and communal struggles, triumphs, and aspirations. The list of contributors suggests the range of perspectives and talents brought to bear on such issues as economics, political power, work, authority, and culture. Black Genius is a point of departure for vigorous discussion of our current realities and goals for the future-and a portrait of "genius" that leads the way to enriching American life in the twenty-first century.

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These essays are taken from a symposium held in New York University's Africana Studies Program, whose participants included gifted writers and thinkers from the upper echelon of Afro-American achievement. The organizer, novelist Walter Mosley, writes, "The intent of Black Genius was to assemble a group of black intellectuals, artists, political activists, economists who have broken the visor and seen beyond the fallacies of race.... We wanted to present the stories of women and men who had made it in spite of the system." Farai Chideya delivers an on-point analysis of the media's misrepresentation of blacks and offers a blueprint for more up-front and behind-the-scenes representation in the newsroom. Critic Stanley Crouch body-slams the negroidal nihilism and black "gansta" mentality in rap music, while Angela Davis delivers a nightmarish assessment of the growing African American prison population. Others--including Julianne Malveaux, Randall Robinson, Spike Lee, and Anna Deveare Smith--take aim at health, the film industry, Wall Street, and the state of African-descended people around the world. --Eugene Holley Jr.

About the Author:

Regina Austin is William A. Schnader Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania.

Manthia Diawara is director of NYU's Africana Studies Program and Institute of African American Affairs.

Walter Mosley is the author of four previous mystery novels in the Easy Rawlins series: Devil in a Blue Dress (basis for the acclaimed film starring Denzel Washington), A Red Death, White Butterfly, and Black Betty, a New York Times bestseller. In August 1995 he published his first non-genre novel, RL's Dream, to widespread praise. Mosley is the current president of the Mystery Writers of America, a member of the executive board of the PEN American Center and founder of its Open Book Committee, and is on the board of directors of the National Book Awards. His novels are now published in eighteen countries. He is at work on a book featuring a new character, a philosophical and tough ex-convict named Socrates Fortlow; sections have already appeared in Esquire and GQ. A native of Los Angeles, Mosley lives in New York City.

Clyde Taylor is a professor at NYU's Gallatin School.

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