Black nationalists of the Black Power era often viewed Black criminality as an essential component to Black political consciousness. "There have been those black Americans who have resisted white America," activist Julius Lester argued. "These were the field niggers during slavery, Nat Turner, the Black abolitionists, Garvey, and in our own time, Malcolm, the hustler on the corner and the high-school dropout." Scholars have amply demonstrated the ideological logic of Julius Lester's thinking about the guy on the corner, but how the guy on the corner makes sense of the Nationalist argument is undertheorized in the current literature. In an era when gangsta rap has come to be seen to epitomize urban Black manhood, this question remains crucial today. What then is the relationship between oppositional, self-destructive notions of Black identity and Black political consciousness as lived and experienced by urban Black youth? Building on the work of Franz Fanon and more recent theories of coloniality, the study explores the relationship between the two as they have evolved in the lives of young Black men. The historical relationship between the Black Panther Party and the Crips and Bloods serves as a lens through which I examine the interplay of criminality and radicalism in Black consciousness in the United States. Thus, this dissertation is not primarily a study of gang activity or the Black Panther Party. Rather, it is a sociological study of how evolving political activism, state actions and economic conditions have shaped Black consciousness. The relationship between self-destructive notions of Blackness and resistance is complex. That organizations like the Black Panther Party have attracted significant numbers of gang members is well documented. Still, it is a fact that most Black youth have not been in gangs or in radical organizations such as the Black Panther Party. Nevertheless, I argue, the historical relationship between the two social collectivities illuminates a fundamental aspect of Black consciousness. This tension between criminality and radicalism has long been recognized in Black life. Whether in celebrations of the folk figure Stagger Lee, Richard Wright's Bigger Thomas, or Hip Hop artist Tupac Shakur, the intersection of oppression, resistance and criminality occupies a crucial place in the Black experience. However, the particular, shifting balance of these tendencies at any given moment is a matter of critical importance in how Black Americans navigate their American dilemma.
|Commitee:||Mahiri, Jabari, Perlstein, Daniel, Small, Stephen|
|School:||University of California, Berkeley|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 72/12, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||African American Studies, Black studies, Ethnic studies, Social structure|
|Keywords:||Black Panther Party, Bloods, California, Crips, Fanon, Frantz, Gangs, Los Angeles, Social movements|
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