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Norman Kelley

Norman Kelley's Rhythm & Business: The Political Economy of Black Music is now available in paperback from Akashic Books.

In Conversation

Pastor of the People: David Dyson

David Dyson is a longtime social justice activist and pastor of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Fort Greene. Norman Kelley, whose latest book is The Head Negro in Charge Syndrome, recently sat down with Pastor Dyson.

Rev. Al’s Scampaign 2004

A year ago I wrote an article for New York Press in which I examined Rev. Al Sharpton’s pre-2004 campaign.

The Afro–Culture Wars: The "New Black Man" Cultural Criticism as Pseudo–analysis, Pt. 2

Are you one of those wobbly intellectuals or cultural critics who feels uneasy around strong black men?

George W. Bush’s Redemption Song

If the black political agenda of the post–civil rights era has been to influence the machinery of the federal government to black advantage, moving from protest to politics, the reelection of George W. Bush has shown that this agenda has failed.

The Triumph of Conservatism

The neo-cons’ agenda becomes even more macabre when one considers that they predicate their views on bringing “moral clarity” to various issues, especially in regard to foreign policy. In spite of this, they feel no compunction about lying to the American public to achieve their policy goals.

The Last Arab

Nasser was the first and last post-colonial leader of the Middle East to put the Arab nation back on the map as a concept, if not as a fact. He evoked the concept of a greater, unified Arab nation—tied by language, history, and, most importantly, religion—from the Atlantic to the Gulf, an idea that ran counter to the West’s agenda of maintaining a fractured and individualized Middle East.

The Afro-Culture Wars: Bill Cosby vs. Michael Eric Dyson Cultural Criticism as Pseudo-analysis, Pt. 1,

So, what’s the difference between what DuBois wrote over a hundred years ago and what Bill Cosby said last year? Nothing much, except that DuBois offered his views in an obscure essay.

Beware Negroes with Guns

The realpolitik of the civil rights era is probably the least understood aspect of that halcyon period. Awash as it was with the moral high tone of redemptive suffering, of marching blacks and whites, and of America finally living up to its creed of equality and justice for all, it’s no small wonder that the era’s actual policies and practices are not yet fully understood. Today, Dr. King is even the poster boy for conservative colorblind policies; former lieutenants of “De Lawd” (as SNCC activists called King) now use his legacy to advance self-aggrandizing schemes like the Wall Street Project.

You May Never Have Heard of Leo Strauss, but His Ideas Are Dominating the World

One of the grand mysteries of the 21st century, which may well have to be explained in the 22nd century, is how Cornel West became a household name, even a celebrity, while most Americans have never heard of Leo Strauss. The supreme irony is that Strauss’s influence is far more pervasive than West’s: Strauss’s acolytes have penetrated American government and higher education, and have proudly influenced the nation’s social and public policies.

The Continuous Decline of the West

H.L. Mencken’s trenchant observation that behind every dumb idea lurks a college professor is fully revealed in Cornel West’s Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (Penguin Press).

In Conversation

University, Inc.: Jennifer Washburn with Norman Kelley

Expanding on a subject she originally wrote about six years ago in the Atlantic Monthly (“The Kept University”), author Jennifer Washburn’s University, Inc. (Basic Books, 2005) explains the troubling collusion between higher education and corporations. Norman Kelley recently sat down with Washburn at her Park Slope apartment.

The Original Faith-based Initiative

Presently terms such as “prophetic” and “faith-based” are so tossed around and used and abused by both the Left and the Right that they have become meaningless.

“How Come You’re Not on American Idol?"

In an era in which the music recording industry prefabricates talent to fit the latest trend, or TV’s American Idol submits them to its tribunal’s ridicule or the whims of fickle fans, Candace Jones is a rare exception. She actually has singing ability and the requisite attitude to back it up.

The Soul Stirrer: The Legacy of Sam Cooke

If Ray Charles caused consternation in then-Negro America by using gospel sounds as a foundation for the “devil’s music,” what some blacks pejoratively called R&B, Sam Cooke made some people damn right apoplectic.

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The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2019

All Issues