Desegregating the Dollar: African American Consumerism in the Twentieth Century

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9780814792902: Desegregating the Dollar: African American Consumerism in the Twentieth Century
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Capitalism and slavery stand as the two economic phenomena that have most clearly defined the United States. Yet, despite African Americans' nearly $500 billion annual spending power, surprisingly little attention has been devoted to the ways U.S. businesses have courted black dollars in post-slavery America. Robert E. Weems, Jr., presents the first fully integrated history of black consumerism over the course of the last century.

The World War I era Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to northern and southern cities stimulated initial corporate interest in blacks as consumers. A generation later, as black urbanization intensified during World War II and its aftermath, the notion of a distinct, profitable African American consumer market gained greater currency. Moreover, black socioeconomic gains resulting from the Civil Rights movement which itself featured such consumer justice protests as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, further enhanced the status and influence of African American shoppers.

Unwilling to settle for facile answers, Weems explores the role of black entrepreneurs who promoted the importance of the African American consumer market to U.S. corporations. Their actions, ironically, set the stage for the ongoing destruction of black-owned business. While the extent of educational, employment, and residential desegregation remains debatable, African American consumer dollars have, by any standard, been fully incorporated into the U.S. economy.

Desegregating the Dollar takes us through the "blaxploitation" film industry, the vast market for black personal care products, and the insidious exploitation of black urban misery by liquor and cigarette advertisers. Robert E. Weems, Jr., has given us the definitive account of the complicated relationship between African Americans, capitalism, and consumerism.

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About the Author:

Robert E. Weems, Jr., is Professor of History at the University of Missouri-Columbia and author of Desegregating the Dollar: African American Consumerism in the Twentieth Century (NYU Press).

Review:

"This is undoubtedly one of the best reference works ever published on witchcraft. Breslaw, fresh from her well-received revisionist history "Tituba: Reluctant Witch of Salem", brings together work by some of the best-known scholars of the field, including Elizabeth Reis, Carol Karlsen, John Demos, Paul Boyer, Stephen Nissenbaum and David Hall. She organizes primary sources (including the 1486 manifesto "Why Women Are Chiefly Addicted to Superstitions") and insightful secondary essays around topics of European, Native American and African witchcraft. The anthology is to be applauded for its commitment to representing cultural variance--showing how, for example, indigenous American magical traditions differed greatly from tribe to tribe. Breslaw's awareness of diverse cultural contexts highlights the multiple functions that witchcraft and anti-witchcraft served in individual communities." -"Publishers Weekly", "This is a useful collection of material on witchcraft." -"Journal of World History", "Breslaw breathes new life into many debates about witchcraft. Witches of the Atlantic World takes us on a fascinating, occasionally chilling, tour of witchcraft in four continents. Breslaw provides opposing viewpoints and judiciously balances the writing of historians and anthropologists, participants and observers, victims of possession and some accused witches themselves. Breslaw's book will prove a welcome and long-overdue addition."-Alison Games, author of "Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World" "A well-selected and admirably introduced collection of primary sources and secondary interpretations . . . By incorporating Africans and native Americans into a story that normally deals only with Europeans (at home and in the colonies), Breslaw opens new approaches to a familiar but always fascinating subject." -Francis Bremer, Millersville University "Elaine Breslaw has performed a signal service for teachers of history, anthropology, religious studies, women's studies--indeed, anyone who wishes to urge students beyond stereotypical views of witchcraft. The cross-cultural approach that informed her work on Tituba comes to fulfillment in this comprehensive collection. Confronted with evidence of witchcraft's significance for varied peoples across time and space, students cannot leer at Puritans as 'credulous, ' Africans as 'primitive, ' Amerindians as 'diabolical, ' or Europeans as 'superstitious' because they practiced magic; rather, they must confront witchcraft's widespread importance as a historical and human phenomenon on its own terms." -Charles L. Cohen, University of Wisconsin

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9780814793275: Desegregating the Dollar: African American Consumerism in the Twentieth Century

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ISBN 10:  0814793274 ISBN 13:  9780814793275
Publisher: NYU Press, 1998
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