Everything But the Burden: What White People Are Taking from Black Culture

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Crown, Jan 14, 2003 - Social Science - 272 pages
White kids from the ’burbs are throwing up gang signs. The 2001 Grammy winner for best rap artist was as white as rice. And blond-haired sorority sisters are sporting FUBU gear. What is going on in American culture that’s giving our nation a racial-identity crisis?

Following the trail blazed by Norman Mailer’s controversial essay “The White Negro,” Everything but the Burden brings together voices from music, popular culture, the literary world, and the media speaking about how from Brooklyn to the Badlands white people are co-opting black styles of music, dance, dress, and slang. In this collection, the essayists examine how whites seem to be taking on, as editor Greg Tate’s mother used to tell him, “everything but the burden”–from fetishizing black athletes to spinning the ghetto lifestyle into a glamorous commodity. Is this a way of shaking off the fear of the unknown? A flattering indicator of appreciation? Or is it a more complicated cultural exchange? The pieces in Everything but the Burden explore the line between hero-worship and paternalism.

Among the book’s twelve essays are Vernon Reid’s “Steely Dan Understood as the Apotheosis of ‘The White Negro,’” Carl Hancock Rux’s “The Beats: America’s First ‘Wiggas,’” and Greg Tate’s own introductory essay “Nigs ’R Us.”

Other contributors include: Hilton Als, Beth Coleman, Tony Green, Robin Kelley, Arthur Jafa, Gary Dauphin, Michaela Angela Davis, dream hampton, and Manthia diAwara.

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User Review  - chrisblocker - LibraryThing

A misleading and uneven book that poses, but doesn't answer, an interesting question. Everything But the Burden isn't a collection of essays in its entirety. There's an impression given, as the book's ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - allison.sivak - LibraryThing

A mixed bag. The most readable essays for me were by Meri Nana-ama Danquah (I've since taken out her book Willow Weep for Me), Renee Green, and Arthur Jafa. Read full review


Title Page Dedication
Nigs R Us or How Blackfolk Became Fetish Objects by Greg Tate
The New White Negro by Carl Hancock
Scenes from Umkovu a play by Eisa Davis
Reds Whites and Blues People by Robin D G Kelley
Pimp Notes on Autonomy by Beth Coleman
Spiritual Darkness and HipHop by Melvin Gibbs
Yoked in Gowanus by Jonathan Lethem
Skinned by Cassandra Lane
Ali Foreman Mailer and Me by Tony Green
Malick Sidibé and James Brown by Manthia Diawara
The Black Asianphile by Latasha Natasha Diggs
AfroKinky Human Hair by Meri NanaAma Danquah
My AlienMy Self or More Reading at Work by Renée Green I
My Black Death by Arthur Jafa
Contributors Notes

Understood as the Redemption of the White Negro A conversation between Greg Tate and Vernon Reid
The Life and Times of Americas Comic Prophet of Race by Hilton A15 10 The Beautiful Ones by Michaela Angela Davis
Acknowledgments Permissions Copyright Page

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About the author (2003)

A cultural critic for The Village Voice, GREG TATE is also the author of Flyboy in the Buttermilk and contributes regularly to national publications such as Rolling Stone, VIBE, and the New York Times. In addition, he helped found the Black Rock Coalition, produced two albums on his own label, and composed a libretto that was performed at the Apollo Theater. He lives in New York City.

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