Cover image for Barbershops, bibles, and BET : everyday talk and Black political thought
Barbershops, bibles, and BET : everyday talk and Black political thought
Harris-Perry, Melissa V. (Melissa Victoria), 1973-
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xxiii, 339 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.615 .H295 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



What is the best way to understand black political ideology? Just listen to the everyday talk that emerges in public spaces, suggests Melissa Harris-Lacewell. And listen this author has--to black college students talking about the Million Man March and welfare, to Southern, black Baptists discussing homosexuality in the church, to black men in a barbershop early on a Saturday morning, to the voices of hip-hop music and Black Entertainment Television.

Using statistical, experimental, and ethnographic methods Barbershops, Bibles, and B.E.T offers a new perspective on the way public opinion and ideologies are formed at the grassroots level. The book makes an important contribution to our understanding of black politics by shifting the focus from the influence of national elites in opinion formation to the influence of local elites and people in daily interaction with each other. Arguing that African Americans use community dialogue to jointly develop understandings of their collective political interests, Harris-Lacewell identifies four political ideologies that constitute the framework of contemporary black political thought: Black Nationalism, Black Feminism, Black Conservatism and Liberal Integrationism. These ideologies, the book posits, help African Americans to understand persistent social and economic inequality, to identify the significance of race in that inequality, and to devise strategies for overcoming it.

Author Notes

Melissa Victoria Harris-Lacewell is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this comprehensive book, Harris-Lacewell (Univ. of Chicago) argues that an effective way of understanding black political ideology is to examine what she calls "everyday talk in public spaces." This approach provides understanding of the meaning of language used by African Americans, while also offering insight into the nuances of black political thought expressed by elites. Harris-Lacewell uses several different data sources to document her claims, including information obtained from a systematic study of a Baptist church in Durham, NC; analysis of national survey data on African American political attitudes; analysis of two experimental studies; participant observer data of a black barbershop on the south side of Chicago; and an examination of the writings of several black elites. The author concludes with a discussion of several recent examples of how black political ideology manifests itself in popular culture, including an interesting assessment of the 2002 film Barbershop. The book convincingly demonstrates that there are many aspects of black ideology and opinion, a fact that is necessarily overlooked in conventional analyses of voting patterns, partisan affiliation, or interest group involvement. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates and above. N. Kraus Valparaiso University

Table of Contents

T. Mills
List of Tablesp. ix
List of Figuresp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. xvii
Chapter 1 Everyday Talk and Ideologyp. 1
Chapter 2 Ideology in Action: The Promise of Orange Grovep. 35
Chapter 3 Black Talk, Black Thought: Evidence in National Datap. 79
Chapter 4 Policing Conservatives, Believing Feminists: Reactions to Unpopular Ideologies in Everyday Black Talkp. 110
Appendix 4.1p. 153
Appendix 4.2p. 157
Chapter 5 Truth and Soul: Black Talk in the Barbershop Written with Quincyp. 162
Chapter 6 Speaking to, Speaking for, Speaking with: Black Ideological Elitesp. 204
Chapter 7 Everyday Black Talk at the Turn of the Twenty-first Centuryp. 250
Notesp. 265
Bibliographyp. 287
Indexp. 313