Book Review: Party Crashing: How The Hip-Hop Generation Declared Political Independence
by Keli Goff
Publication Date: Feb 26, 2008
List Price: $16.95
Format: Paperback, 244 pages
Imprint: Basic Civitas Books
Publisher: Perseus Books
Parent Company: Hachette Livre
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Book Reviewed by Kam Williams
’Unlike their parents and grandparents, young black Americans no longer view their political identity as black and white, so to speak. Today, the politics of race that were once the defining political issue for all black voters have become one political issue among many for younger blacks, causing them to reevaluate their political involvement, activism, and partisanship.
That black Americans are Democrats has been one of the most reliable truisms of American politics of the past 40 years. But black Americans born after the Civil Rights Movement are challenging the notion of a singular black vote. Instead, they are proving that black voters come in all shapes and sizes (politically speaking), and that the issues that matter to them are just as diverse as those that matter to white Americans from different ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and different generations.’
’Excerpted from the Introduction (pages 5-6)
For the third week in a row, I find myself reviewing a book
questioning the wisdom of the African-American community's longstanding
allegiance to the Democratic Party. First, in
’A Bound Man,’ Shelby Steele explained why Obama won’t win the
presidency. Then, in
’Wrong on Race,’ Bruce Bartlett delineated the Democrats' long
legacy of being anti-black crusaders, from slavery through
Reconstruction and Jim Crow segregation right up until the dawning of
the new era of tolerance ushered in by the Civil Rights Movement of the
Now, ’Party Crashing,’ perhaps the most controversial of the three, postulates that the Hip-Hop Generation feels no particular loyalty either to the Democratic Party or to traditional black issues. For instance, it points out that BET political commentator Jeff Johnson (’Rap City’ and ’The Jeff Johnson Chronicles’), endorsed Republican Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio's 2006 gubernatorial race, even though, as Secretary of State, Blackwell had been blamed for the shady shenanigans which handed Ohio to Bush in the previous presidential election.
My primary problem with Party Crashing is not its unpersuasive appraisal of members of the Hip-Hop Generation as perhaps more conservative or at least independent of their parents' mindset, but with the superficiality of the manner in which it makes its case. Touching on a series of hot-button topical issues, author Keli Goff arrives at a variety of patently preposterous claims, invariably backing up her bizarre conclusions with statistics from a survey she conducted under the auspices of Suffolk University.
For example, Goff, who holds a master's degree from Columbia University, would have us believe that Kanye West was way out of line when presuming to speak on behalf of African-American youth when he said that George Bush doesn't care about black people. She relies on statistics in asserting that ’The majority of younger black Americans do not believe that race was the defining factor in the government's inadequate to Hurricane Katrina.’
Oh really? I say you can prove anything you want with statistics, except the truth. The intellectually dishonest author is repeatedly infuriating by twisting number to fit her agenda in this fashion. Worse, she constantly teases the reader by dropping bombshells without addressing the subject further in depth.
Thus, Party Crashing is most annoying, not because of its transparent agenda, but because it simply has nothing of substance to share that you haven't already heard uttered before in a 30-second sound bite by a right-wing political pundit on TV.
Look, I might disagree strongly with Shelby Steele, but at least he backed up his thesis with some intriguing arguments about Obama’s prospects. This superficial screed gives you nothing to sink your teeth into. Where's the beef, Keli?
What we have here is an ill-timed Republican recruitment tool designed to entice blacks over to the Grand Old Party. I suppose when the publishers greenlighted this book, they probably never considered the possibility that Obama would have so much momentum. For Goff simply sounds silly when she suggests that black youth are eager to abandon the Democratic Party when this is the very constituency most rabidly backing Barack and likely to put him over the top.