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The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics Paperback – Apr 30 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 410 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (April 30 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226112896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226112893
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,437,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Yale professor Cohen combines rigorous research and fresh sociological insights to build her argument that a black political agenda based solely on race promotes exclusionary practices. Cohen tracked responses to AIDS by black civic and church leaders and media in New York City (where, since 1990, AIDS has infected more blacks than any other racial or ethnic group), finding that they have espoused an understanding of racial identity that privileges middle-class, heterosexual males, while using code words "to designate who was expendable." Starting at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, she compares coverage by network television news and the New York Times with that of black newspapers and magazines. Cohen attributes the failure of black media to focus on AIDS at the beginning of the epidemic to homophobia, classism and sexism, resulting in the extreme stigmatization of the most disempowered members of black communities. She finds that in the 1980s, the black political response to AIDS came largely from black lesbians and gays. In recent years, women and children of color have come to be most at risk, while the black media focuses on alternative treatments and new heterosexual dating patterns in response to AIDS. Although Cohen's analysis is encumbered by academic jargon, it is astute and eye-opening.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Cohen's intent in writing this book was, among other things, to expose the processes used to determine what issues affecting substantial numbers of African Americans can be called "`black issues,' deserving of attention, resources, and action on the part of other black people." She specifically looks at why AIDS has been a neglected issue in the black community and why traditional black leaders have remained silent about the disease. Cohen doesn't seek to indict, but to provoke discussion about the nature of black politics. Because blacks have been so marginalized by American culture, internal fragmentation has produced crosscutting issues that have strained the traditional political framework. Traditional civil rights groups and the black church are too centered in a middle-class ethos to take up an issue that appears to impact other marginal populations--homosexuals and drug users. Beyond the AIDS issue, Cohen looks at a new generation of leaders, more inclined or better able to incorporate the more marginalized groups within black America. Vanessa Bush

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Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on Sept. 6 1999
Format: Paperback
Cohen does an excellent job of providing a dual analysis -- one of the current state in the AIDS crisis as well as an honest look at the state of affairs of Black leaders and their inability to "fight the fight" on behalf on our communitites devasted by AIDS. Her scholarly work is provoking, courageous and long overdue. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Black politics and the REAL challenges facing the most marginal of Black communities.
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By A Customer on Aug. 31 1999
Format: Hardcover
Rarely, if ever, does a reader encounter an analysis of black politics, of the AIDS crisis, or of government response to either that addresses such issues in a textured and multi-dimensional way. Cohen's book is an anomaly in that it acknowledges and builds upon those complexities while constructing an argument that does not end with them. Boundaries is a great, informative read and a must-have on the bookshelf of anyone who considers themselves a critical thinker.
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By brando starkey on May 31 2003
Format: Paperback
Cathy adduces an interesting and innovative argument by detailing the way in which the black political heirarchy reacted to the AIDS epidemic and comes to the conclusion that black political leadership is flawed. I don't want to give away too much of her argument, but I must say I disagree with her. That being said, it is still a must read.
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By A Customer on Aug. 3 1999
Format: Paperback
The Boundaries of Blackness is a solid book which analyzes the response of black communities to the AIDS crisis. The complexity of black communities, which are so often described as a singular entity, emerges from Cohen's comprehensive but also nuanced and balanced study. I strongly recommend this book!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Definite Must Have! Sept. 6 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Cohen does an excellent job of providing a dual analysis -- one of the current state in the AIDS crisis as well as an honest look at the state of affairs of Black leaders and their inability to "fight the fight" on behalf on our communitites devasted by AIDS. Her scholarly work is provoking, courageous and long overdue. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Black politics and the REAL challenges facing the most marginal of Black communities.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excellent and scholarly study Aug. 3 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Boundaries of Blackness is a solid book which analyzes the response of black communities to the AIDS crisis. The complexity of black communities, which are so often described as a singular entity, emerges from Cohen's comprehensive but also nuanced and balanced study. I strongly recommend this book!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Add This Book To Your Collection Aug. 31 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Rarely, if ever, does a reader encounter an analysis of black politics, of the AIDS crisis, or of government response to either that addresses such issues in a textured and multi-dimensional way. Cohen's book is an anomaly in that it acknowledges and builds upon those complexities while constructing an argument that does not end with them. Boundaries is a great, informative read and a must-have on the bookshelf of anyone who considers themselves a critical thinker.
Five Stars Sept. 29 2014
By K. Hicks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Seminal work; Outstanding acct of public health history affecting African Americans. Thank you!
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
challenging bourgieness among black folks re: AIDS May 20 2005
By Jeffery Mingo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was reluctant to read or buy this book because I figured that a) I didn't want to hear a white person trash 'the' black community, and b) I didn't want to read a political science book that couldn't possibly cover any new ground on AIDS that fiction writers and progressive activists haven't already done. Fortunately, I was surprised on both fronts. Cohen is an African-American woman (she never explains how she got the last name Cohen) and does try to be mindful of being 'another black academic out to trash black folks' (xi). In addition, she provides a poli. sci. framework in which to look at how African-Americans prioritized or failed to prioritize AIDS that I think could be used to analyze numerous other issues. Cohen investigates black people's response to AIDS through medicine, the press, religious organization, and the Congress from 1981 to 1993. The book is not perfect. Chapters are completely misnamed. (One chapter about the 'dreaded bisexual' only discussed bisexual men for a page at most.) She at times is overly critical of black institutions. (She often states that the black press never covered HIV+ black gay men or HIV+ women activists and I can think of numerous articles in the magazines she examines which actually did what she wanted.) Nevertheless, this was an incredible book. I encourage everyone to purchase it, especially those interested in black gay issues or African-American studies.


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