Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism. By Patricia Hill Collins. (New York: Routledge, 2004. Pp. ix + 374, introduction, notes, glossary, bibliography, index.)
In Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism, sociologist and black feminist critic Patricia Hill Collins challenges African-Americans to "start from scratch" and create a progressive black sexual politics in the age of a "new racism." Drawing upon diverse fields of critical social theory (feminism, sociology, critical race theory, queer theory, cultural studies), Collins presents a work that is intent on being accessible across disciplines and beyond the academy. She engages with a rich variety of examples from black popular culture and mass media, and these, along with her glossary and extensive notes, give her study greater value and should also appeal to undergraduates, in particular African-American students, who, according to Collins, rely heavily on radio, film and other media sources for information on gender and sexuality. For her, mass media is the primary technology through which dubious claims that "racism does not exist" are constructed, manipulated, and distributed for international public consumption (54-55). From Tupac Shakur and Lil' Kim to Booty Call and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Collins's deft analysis of diverse media also provides key and compelling evidence for her theoretical arguments concerning the contours of culture, domination, and black cultural resistance.
Capitalism and the disparate distribution of resources structure this "new racism," which is "new," Collins argues, because it is global: racializing wealth and poverty on a global scale, while situating people of African descent at the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy. For her, the new racism is also transnational, hence, racial inequality transverses borders in ways that circumvent local and national governments' absolute power over shaping racial policies. Throughout the black diaspora this idea continues to prevail as black populations experience social and economic powerlessness. A key function of the new racism, she asserts, is to undermine social protest against anti-black racism within nation-states.
Black diaspora scholars such as Paul Gilroy (There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack: the cultural politics of race and nation. London: Routledge, 1987), Edmund T. Gordon (Disparate Diasporas: Identity and Politics in an...