Skip to main content

The Boundaries of Blackness

AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics

The Boundaries of Blackness

AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics

Last year, more African Americans were reported with AIDS than any other racial or ethnic group. And while African Americans make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for more than 55 percent of all newly diagnosed HIV infections. These alarming developments have caused reactions ranging from profound grief to extreme anger in African-American communities, yet the organized political reaction has remained remarkably restrained.

The Boundaries of Blackness is the first full-scale exploration of the social, political, and cultural impact of AIDS on the African-American community. Informed by interviews with activists, ministers, public officials, and people with AIDS, Cathy Cohen unflinchingly brings to light how the epidemic fractured, rather than united, the black community. She traces how the disease separated blacks along different fault lines and analyzes the ensuing struggles and debates.

More broadly, Cohen analyzes how other cross-cutting issues—of class, gender, and sexuality—challenge accepted ideas of who belongs in the community. Such issues, she predicts, will increasingly occupy the political agendas of black organizations and institutions and can lead to either greater inclusiveness or further divisiveness.

The Boundaries of Blackness, by examining the response of a changing community to an issue laced with stigma, has much to teach us about oppression, resistance, and marginalization. It also offers valuable insight into how the politics of the African-American community—and other marginal groups—will evolve in the twenty-first century.

410 pages | 9 line drawings, 17 tables | 6 x 9 | © 1999

Black Studies

Gay and Lesbian Studies

Political Science: American Government and Politics, Race and Politics

Table of Contents

1. The Boundaries of Black Politics
2. Marginalization: Power, Identity, and Membership
3. Enter AIDS: Context and Confrontation
4. Invisible to the Centers for Disease Control
5. All the Black People Fit to Print
6. Conspiracies and Controversies
7. Unsuspecting Women and the Dreaded Bisexual
8. Willing to Serve, but Not to Lead
9. Women, Children, and Funding
10. AIDS and Beyond

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press