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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: 694 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,845,973 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: 7 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.
Who really constructs the narrative surrounding AIDS in the Black community? April 23 2015
By Keith Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Cohen examines AIDS as a cross-cutting issue laced with stigma and rooted in African-American communities, which provides insight into how black leaders, organizations, and community members respond to the changing political environment that confronts all marginal groups in the 21st century. (9) She highlights the development of indigenous structures, resources, leaders, and information as a response to the exclusion created by marginalization and cross-cutting issues within the African American community.(37) Cohen also examines the roles of the CDC and the national print media in defining who was at risk, what were the appropriate paths for research, reporting, and responses that others would follow.(121) She condemns the national media’s portrayal of AIDS through the lenses of Magic Johnson and Arthur Ashe as one which further marginalizes AIDS for the black gay community and drug using community, which posits both of these as deviant behaviors. Cohen then tackles the role of black media in the portrayal of AIDS within the black community. She claims that historically the black press has been integral in providing information that helped shape the political agenda for black Americans. (188) Cohen then attacks the responses to the AIDS epidemic by the NAACP, Urban League and “black churches.” She claims that this issue should guide us in asking what role should and can such institutions play in the more cross-cutting politics of black communities in the 21st century? (258) She concludes her scathing rebuke of the African American communities’ response to AIDS with an examination of the “on-again, off-again” responses of elected black officials. Cohen’s condemnation of Black politics, thus, focuses on the marginalization and the cross cutting issues that surround the AIDS epidemic.
Cohen’s work adds to the marginalization and “cross-cutting” issues faced within Black studies through the lenses of the AIDS epidemic and its impact upon the Black community and Black politics. What I find to be relevant is the attention that Cohen plays to those groups that are marginalized specifically by AIDS: gay Blacks and IV drug users. I appreciated her analysis of the shaping of the discourse surrounding the AIDS epidemic by the CDC, the national media and Black media outlets. By shining an academic light upon the struggles of those marginalized Cohen is able to examine the impact of AIDS upon a broader swath of the Black community. Another point I believe to be relevant is that, as Cohen points out, there is no one monolithic Black story. I also appreciated her attack on this very narrative as being defined by Magic Johnson and Arthur Ashe’s story of resistance because theirs was not one of “deviant” behavior. This brought me to a bigger question: who defines deviant or queer behavior? Or, as the case may be, who defines “respectability”? Because there is no one monolithic Black community than how do these terms respectability, deviant and queer apply to Black studies?
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!


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