Author of We Gon’ Be Alright and Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post Civil-Rights America
“Who We Be is a compassionate, clear-eyed book, an exciting contribution to the history of our present moment.”—Teju Cole
Jeff Chang has written extensively on the intersection of race, art, and civil rights, and the socio-political forces that guided the hip-hop generation. As a speaker, he brings fresh energy and sweep to the essential American story, offering an invaluable interpretation at a time when race defines the national conversation. His next book, We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation (Fall 2016), questions why we keep talking about diversity as American society is resegregating, both racially and economically.
His previous book, Who We Be, is a powerful, challenging, and timely cultural history of the notion of racial progress, tackling pertinent themes of multiculturalism, student and political activism, the state of the arts, and the politics of abandonment. His first book, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, is only ostensibly about hip-hop: it’s actually a cultural and social history, and a provocative look at the end of the American century. It has garnered many honors—including the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award—for its radical historicism and academic chops. Chang has also edited Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop—a look at the genre’s true pioneers and mavericks—and is now at work on two book projects: Youth (a Picador Big Ideas/Small Book) and an exciting biography of Bruce Lee (Little, Brown).
Chang has been a USA Ford Fellow in Literature and a winner of the North Star News Prize. He was named one of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World” by The Utne Reader. With H. Samy Alim, he was the 2014 winner of the St. Clair Drake Teaching Award at Stanford University. Chang also co-founded CultureStr/ke (www.culturestrike.net) and ColorLines magazine (www.colorlines.com), and was a Senior Editor/Director at Russell Simmons’ 360hiphop.com. He has written for The Nation, The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, Foreign Policy, N+1, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, Buzzfeed, and Medium, among many others.
Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i, he is a graduate of ‘Iolani School, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at Los Angeles. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University.
Who We Be: The Colorization of America
Race. A four-letter word. The greatest social divide in American life, a half-century ago and today. During that time, the U.S. has seen the most dramatic demographic and cultural shifts in its history, what can be called the colorization of America. But the same nation that elected its first Black president on a wave of hope—another four-letter word—is still plunged into endless culture wars. How do Americans see race now? How has that changed—and not changed—over the half-century? After eras framed by words like "multicultural" and "post-racial," do we see each other any more clearly? In this talk, Jeff Chang remixes comic strips and contemporary art, campus protests and corporate marketing campaigns, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Trayvon Martin into a powerful, unusual, and timely cultural history of the idea of racial progress. He brings fresh energy, style, and sweep to the essential American story.
Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Jeff Chang traverses continents and decades to show us how hip-hop came to crystallize a multiracial generation's worldview. How does it define the lives of millions around the world? How has it transformed politics and art? And how did it redefine the portrayal of race in popular culture? He draws on economics, social theory and demographics to trace the tumultuous period in which hip-hop came to life—a time when the post-civil rights generation moved from out of the margins and into the mainstream. He speaks with passion, tempered with a critical understanding of pop culture, to tell students that this important history is actually their history.
Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post Civil-Rights America
Race. A four-letter word. The greatest social divide in American life, a half-century ago and today. During that time, the U.S. has seen the most dramatic demographic and cultural shifts in its history, what can be called the colorization of America. But the same nation that elected its first Black president on a wave of hope—another four-letter word—is still plunged into endless culture wars.
How do Americans see race now? How has that changed—and not changed—over the half-century? After eras framed by words “multicultural” and “post-” do we see each other any more clearly?
Who We Be remixes comic strips and contemporary art, campus protests and corporate marketing campaigns, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Trayvon Martin into a powerful, unusual, and timely cultural history of the idea of racial progress. In this follow-up to the award-winning classic Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, Jeff Chang brings fresh energy, style, and sweep to the essential American story.
Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Forged in the fires of the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, hip-hop became the Esperanto of youth rebellion and a generation-defining movement. In a post-civil rights era defined by deindustrialization and globalization, hip-hop crystallized a multiracial, polycultural generation's worldview, and transformed American politics and culture. But that epic story has never been told with this kind of breadth, insight, and style.
Based on original interviews with DJs, b-boys, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of hip-hop’s forebears, founders, and mavericks, including DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, and Ice Cube, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop chronicles the events, the ideas, the music, and the art that marked the hip-hop generation’s rise from the ashes of the 60s into the new millennium. Here is a powerful cultural and social history of the end of the American century, and a provocative look into the new world that the hip-hop generation created.
It’s not just rap music. Hip-hop has transformed theater, dance, performance, poetry, literature, fashion, design, photography, painting, and film, to become one of the most far-reaching and transformative arts movements of the past two decades. American Book Award-winning journalist Jeff Chang, author of the acclaimed Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, assembles some of the most innovative and provocative voices in hip-hop to assess the most important cultural movement of our time. It’s an incisive look at hip-hop arts in the voices of the pioneers, innovators, and mavericks.
VIBE Cover Story
Chang recently covered the 2008 Presidential election for vibe.com and Vibe magazine, where he wrote both of their cover stories on Barack Obama, one of them a highly regarded and intimate interview.
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