From Bourgeois to Boojie (Paperback)
Black Middle-Class Performances (African American Life)
Wayne State University Press, 9780814334683, 366pp.
Publication Date: April 15, 2011
In From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances, editor Vershawn Ashanti Young and assistant editor Bridget Harris Tsemo collect a diverse assortment of pieces that examine the generational shift in the perception of the black middle class, from the serious moniker of "bourgeois" to the more playful, sardonic "boojie." Including such senior cultural workers as Amiri Baraka and Houston Baker, as well as younger scholars like Damion Waymer and Candice Jenkins, this significant collection contains essays, poems, visual art, and short stories that examine the complex web of representations that define the contemporary black middle class.
Young opens the book with a critical introduction that looks at the articulation of class and race as a mode of performing U.S. citizenship. In four thematic parts-Performing Responsibility, Performing Womanhood, Performing Media, and Performing Sexuality-contributors explore different aspects of middle-class blackness. Acknowledging that the black middle class could never be depicted satisfactorily by one genre or from one perspective, contributors include pieces as varied as drawings by Iowa artist Jean Berry; self-reflexive commentaries from cultural critics Bryant Keith Alexander, Houston Baker, Dwight McBride, and Greg Tate; a short story by novelist Venise Berry; and cultural critiques by scholars Harilaos Stecopoulos and Angela Nelson. The volume also contains a thoughtful foreword by performance artist and scholar E. Patrick Johnson and an astute afterword by sociologist Mary Pattillo.
The journey from bourgeois to boojie embraces the long journey of African Americans from the cotton field and the assembly line to the corporate conference table and the White House. This insightful and diverse volume will be relevant to scholars of performance studies, African American studies, American literature, performative writing, and sociology, as well as creative writers and those interested in contemporary political discourse on race.