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A Review of Black Perspectives Roundtables and CFPs in 2021


A Review of Black Perspectives Roundtables and CFPs in 2021

The African Amalgamation of Ubiquity mural painted by Curtis Lewis, in Detriot, MI, 1995 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

In 2021, Black Perspectives commissioned several roundtables and calls for papers. All of them either marked the occasion of an important book in the broad field of Black intellectual history or commemorated a historic event in African American history. In either case, we were fortunate to publish pieces by historians dedicated to the idea that Black intellectual history offers plenty of opportunities for conversation about not just the past, but where that past has led us to in the present. 

Black Perspectives 2021 in roundtables began with one dedicated to the book We Are Not Slaves: State Violence, Coerced Labor, and Prisoners’ Rights in Postwar America by Robert T. Chase. Contributors to the roundtable included Amanda Hughett, Dan Berger, Timothy Stewart-Winter, Shannon King, Cheryl D. Hicks, and Charlene J. Fletcher. The contributors examined various facets of Chase’s book, which probes the history of how prisoners in Texas organized to fight the cruel conditions of their imprisonment. “We Are Not Slaves,” argued contributor Amanda Hughett, “offers readers a glimpse into the messy and circuitous ways in which imprisoned people’s legal claims shaped modern prison policy.”  Modern debates about the carceral state and prison abolition have much to learn from this book—and the roundtable for it. 

The second roundtable of 2021 was devoted to Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership. Julia Rabig, Kimberley S. Johnson, Paige Glotzer, and Jessica Ann Levy all penned thoughtful and thorough responses to Taylor’s critical work. For all of them, Race for Profit illustrated the need for more people to understand the relationship between race, class, and capital in modern American history. One of the strengths of all the roundtables was the ability of various scholars to tie the work to their own specialties—in the process, giving readers an even deeper understanding of the true value of…

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