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Shes Mad Real: Popular Culture and West Indian Girls in Brooklyn Paperback – July 25, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (July 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814752489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814752487
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,277,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“LaBennett’s depiction of how young girls actively and often successfully negotiate the seductiveness of popular culture—as active and self-conscious consumers and not just passive victims of stereotypes—is a powerful reminder of ethnography’s analytical value…This thoughtful and sophisticated piece of work is not about ‘model minorities’ or ‘welfare wannabees,’ but about complicated young women learning to live in their bodies amidst a world that sometimes uses those very bodies—in all their racial and gendered specificity—against them.”
-John L. Jackson, Jr., University of Pennsylvania

“LaBennett is deeply attuned to her subjects. Together, researcher and research subjects explore the wide world around them: hip-hop culture, opportunities for mobility, sexual life, issues of risk, relationships with mom…it’s all here! LaBennett develops incisive new interpretations of such concepts as ‘play-labor’ and ‘authenticity.’ She’s Mad Real both joins a rich ethnographic literature and expands it in revealing politically conscious and hip ways. A fantastic text for in-class use.”
-Howard Winant, University of California, Santa Barbara

About the Author

Oneka LaBennett is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University. 

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book, which integrates sophisticated theoretical framework with an accessible and well written ethnographic voice and would be fabulous to use in Youth Culture, Ethnic Studies or Popular culture classes. LaBennett successfully shows how West Indian teenagers are critical social agents, who actively interpret and contest popular media and representations of blackness and femininity, even as they struggle within the constraints produced by these popular representations. This book challenges dominant representations of black girls as problems, victims, or model minorities, instead showing how West Indian teenage girls craft fluid identities and definitions of blackness as they negotiate American racial ideologies alongside West Indian cultural expectations. LaBennett is wonderfully attentive to the complex politics of place in the construction of race, gender and identity for teenage girls in Brooklyn, exploring how segregation, gentrification and parental gendered expectations shape the ways young people try to carve out space for themselves in public spaces that too often define them as risky or as at-risk. Also has a fabulous chapter on hip hop, which is well grounded in the literature, but also moves beyond it, to offer a real ethnographic account of how teenage girls engage with representations of women in hip hop and craft an identity as dual citizens in the hip hop nation.
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