Between God and Gangsta' Rap

Between God and Gangsta' Rap : Bearing Witness to Black Culture

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In his essays, lectures, sermons, and books, Eric Dyson has emerged as one of the leading African-American voices of our day. Bringing together his writings on music, religion, politics, and identity, and offering a multi-faceted view of black life, this collection charts the progress of Dyson's own soul alongside the progress and pain of African Americans over the past decade. Opening with a letter to his brother, who is serving life in prison on a murder charge, he goes on to discuss themes and figures ranging from sexuality and the black family, to Michael Jordan, Ice Cube, and O.J. more

Product details

  • Hardback | 239 pages
  • 154.94 x 220.98 x 33.02mm | 430.91g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195098986
  • 9780195098983

Review quote

"Michael Eric Dyson has given us a penetrating, thoughtful book on many of the issues confronting society today: families and raising children, crime and punishment, politics and poverty, racial tensions and the need to keep the lines of communication open. Insightful and challenging, Between God and Gangsta' Rap has an important message for all of us."--Marian Wright Edelman, President, The Children's Defense Fund"These essays represent Dyson at his best, showing us his special affinity for black popular culture, his perspective as a minister, and his clear powers of analysis. He is the best of the new generation, and everyone interested in black culture--especially young people--will want to own this book."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr."Few books have spoken to me as powerfully and embracingly as this one by Michael Eric Dyson. It stirs the emotions, clarifies thought, moves the heart with its intimacies, incites the passions with its love of humanity, and animates the spirit with its breathtaking implicit conception of religion. Reading it was for me an intimate education in values and sensibility. I wish its many revelations of wisdom could reach those who lead our society and who need its compassionate insights and cautious, perceptive judgments."--Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, Soul Mates, and Meditations"Michael Eric Dyson is one of those rare intellectuals who actually manages to keep in touch with the real world. In Between God and Gangsta' Rap, he demonstrates that he has his finger on the cultural pulse of this sick country of ours. In the wake of a conservative movement that is launching yet another assault on our humanity, we need serious black thinkers and warriors to counteract that madness. This brother is one of them--he's a street fighter in suit and tie."--Nathan McCall, author of Makes Me Wanna Hollershow more

Review Text

One of our most important black intellectuals limns the lives of black Americans with subtle, lucid rigor. As both an academic and Baptist minister, Dyson (Communications/Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Making Malcolm, 1994, etc.) winningly combines the roles of prophet and teacher for which Cornel West has gotten such acclaim, but to even better effect. Dyson's discussion ranges across the complexities of class, race, and gender, touching on politics, personalities, music, and the culture wars. A regular contributor to the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and other journals (where most of the essays here originally appeared) Dyson comfortably adjusts his pitch to suit the many various audiences he addresses. Uppermost, always, in Dyson's mind is the knotted relations of black men and women. He uses the O.J. Simpson trial in particular to examine gender relations, noting how the pressing issue of spousal abuse was sidelined by many blacks, who focused instead on the oppression of black men by a white system. He also looks hard at black popular culture for its misogyny and impoverished racial vision, although in reviews of popular musicians like Luther Vandross and Anita Baker, he delights in black culture's infinite variety, understanding it as the repository "of our deepest desires and fears." In the most moving part of the book, the author reprints a letter he wrote to his brother in jail for murder, offering frightening proof of the tenuousness of the lives of black men. Dyson gladly places his concern for blacks within the larger concern for all Americans, knowing that afflictions of race do not cripple blacks alone, but all who are a part of this national experiment in democracy. Synthesizing the disparate poles of the sacred and the secular, men and women, "high" culture and "low," Dyson's wisdom is a needed antidote to the poisons of racial hatred and gender inequality ever present in our lives. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Michael Eric Dyson

About the Author: Michael Eric Dyson is an ordained Baptist minister, Director of the Institute of African-American Research, and Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of the widely acclaimed Reflecting Black: African-American Cultural Criticism (winner of the 1994 Gustavus Myers Center Award for the Ouststanding Book on Human Rights) and Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X (a New York Times and Philadephia Inquirer "Notable Book of 1994").show more

Rating details

77 ratings
3.77 out of 5 stars
5 26% (20)
4 36% (28)
3 27% (21)
2 10% (8)
1 0% (0)
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