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Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University. He is editor of The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, co-editor of Transition magazine, and the author of several essays, reviews and articles.
: The Encyclopedia of the...
Turning to the Western Hemisphere, Africana skillfully and succinctly synopsizes the lives and achievements of a multitude of African Americans, from 18th-century inventor-astronomer Benjamin Banneker to late-20th-century heroes like Colin Powell, Tiger Woods, and astronaut Mae Jemison. You'll learn about the little-considered black presence in Canada; Africana also uncovers hidden pockets of black culture in surprising places like Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina (where the Negro population, we discover, was reduced by a process of miscegenation known as blanqueamiento, or whitening). The upper-crust veneer of the Argentine tango is peeled away, revealing the dance's roots in the rhythmic innovations of 19th-century Afro-Argentines. With all of the aforementioned headings and topics, however, it's the special essays that best detail the treasure chest of scholarship of Africana. Robin Kelley examines the volatile clash between "Malcolm X and the Black Bourgeoisie"; Thomas Skidmore deconstructs "Race and Class in Brazil" and the myth of "racial democracy"; Mahmood Mamdani, in "Ethnicity in Rwanda," brilliantly decodes the complex and maddening colonial manipulations that erupted in genocide and made the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups "more political than cultural identities ... one is power and the other is subject."
A splendidly packaged reference work that will adorn libraries and homes for years to come, Africana defines the black experience in the same sweeping way that the Encyclopedia Britannica defined Euro-American civilization. More importantly for young readers, the magnificent collection shows that Africans and the continent's descendants are a truly global people who have made tremendous contributions to human civilization. --Eugene Holley Jr.
The New York Times
Book Review, John Thornton
Jesse Jackson, Founder,
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