Vershawn Young

From Bourgeois to Boojie

Black Middle-Class Performances

Wayne State University Press 2011

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books Network May 7, 2012 Sherry Johnson

What does it mean to be black? In From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances (Wayne State University Press, 2011) editor Vershawn Ashanti Young...

What does it mean to be black? In From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances (Wayne State University Press, 2011) editor Vershawn Ashanti Young and assistant editor Bridget Harris Tsemo ask the more accurate question: what does it mean to perform blackness? And, what is the relationship between race performance and belonging in the U.S.? While we know that race is a social construct, we also know that how society perceives one’s race coupled with class carries very real outcomes. Thus, to act “black” (or not) and/or to act “boojie” (or not) is a lesson many learn from a young age. In this text, Professor Young brings together a group of heavy hitters who signify on race performances, how one’s socio-economic status alter them, in what contexts, and why.

InFrom Bourgeois to Boojie Professor Young, performance artist, and professor of African American Studies, English, and Performance Studies at University of Kentucky brings together an esteemed group of artists and/or scholars such as Amiri Baraka, Houston A. Baker, Jr, and E. Patrick Johnson, to name but a few. The collection is arranged in four sections–Performing Responsibility, Performing Womanhood, Performing Media, and Performing Sexuality–in which all contributors riff off the terms ‘boojie’ and ‘bourgeois’–the former derived from the latter. Deliciously multi-layered, From Bourgeois to Boojie contains various genres like visual art, essay, poetry, personal reflections, short story, and play scripts. All readers can easily find something that will help them along the path to answer the questions Professor Young asks in his Introduction.

In a time of ostensible post-racialism, Bourgeois to Boojie will highlight the history of race and class as performance in the US, and how they still impact perceived citizenry in the 21st century.

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