Protecting Our Own

Race, Crime, and African Americans

By Katheryn Russell-Brown
(Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Paperback, 9780742545717, 216pp.)

Publication Date: February 2006

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Inspired by the O.J. Simpson case, Protecting Our Own explores the reasons behind the rise of the 'black protectionism' phenomenon and its implications for the future. Comparing the plight of the African American community to the melancholy lyrics but vibrant beat of the blues, Russell-Brown uses the lyrics of these songs to paint a vivid picture of the African American community struggling through the burdens of racial oppression such as second tier status and lynchings solely due to the color of their skins. Russell-Brown explains the feelings of protectionism towards African American celebrities, as many African Americans feel that they have to 'protect their own' because no one else will. Many African Americans, Russell-Brown argues, feel that African American are still under siege and that the few lucky African Americans who find a way into the spotlight deserve a break. However, with more and more African Americans in the spotlight, this practice has new consequences. Protecting Our Own considers these issues in detail. The book sets out to accomplish three goals: to define Black protectionism, to explain how it works and how it can be reformulated to work in the best interests of the African American community. The book uses cases such as the infamous O.J. Simpson case to illustrate and explain the motivations behind black protectionism, even if the defendant is accused of grievous moral and ethical wrongdoing. Russell-Brown criticizes the use of black protectionism as a knee jerk reaction and expresses the need to hold African American celebrities accountable for their misdeeds. She suggests a selective approach to black protectionism that will benefit the African American community at large rather than just a lucky few. This book praises black protectionism at its best a fight that will ensure racial justice in the future.

About the Author
Katheryn Russell-Brown is Professor of Law and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida s Levin College of Law. She is the author of Protecting Our Own: Race, Crime, and African Americans and Underground Codes: Race, Crime, and Related Fires (NYU Press).
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