Side note: apologies for not posting in several weeks. I decided to take a public speaking class this summer at a local community college for fun (I’m crazy, I know), and it really slowed my roll reading-wise. I do have a few books/reviews backlogged, so here is the first…
This non-fiction work was really, really interesting, although probably not something I would recommend to most bookworms. For starters, the book was like political junkie meets ethnic studies major meets millennial and collides in a beautiful symphony of commentary, statistics and historical data. Which means that in order to truly enjoy the book, you probably have some base knowledge and interest in the political scene of the 2000’s as well as generational and historical trends. From author Keli Goff’s own website:
“In her literary debut Party Crashing, author and political commentator Keli Goff explores the cultural and political divide between black Americans of the civil rights generation and their children and grandchildren, known collectively as the hip-hop generation. Covering a diverse array of issues from hip-hop, to gay marriage, and the growing Independent voter movement among younger black Americans, Party Crashing is an in-depth look at how generational differences are impacting the 2008 presidential election, and future elections. In addition to conversations with young black voters, Party Crashing also includes interviews with high-profile black Americans including: former Secretary of State Colin Powell, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, Rev. Al Sharpton and many others, along with exclusive survey research on the political attitudes of young black Americans.”
Like I said before, very specific and academic sounding, but I think Goff does a good job of making the subject fairly approachable for an average reader. The highlights of the book lay in Goff’s discussions of Bill Clinton as the “first black president”, chapter four when she discusses “The Rise of Generation Obama” (note: the book was published in 2007 right before Obama was elected), and chapter five when she poses the question of whether black America should still be seeking a single black leader to represent them.
The last few chapters especially focus in on the way class and generational experiences can shape the politics of an American ethnic group. Goff is recognized as one of the first authors to study and write about the rise of “Generation Obama” and to recognize the maturing of black America into a group of people that is no longer voting along racial lines.
Goff sounded like one of the few black authors I have read recently who is “tuned in” to the political and social dilemmas of the generation coming of age post-civil rights. To previous generations the idea that the young black voters of today don’t feel they owe it to the Democratic party to support them is horrifying. Yet, the rise of political independence among black voters has made them more significant contenders in the electoral process.
I especially appreciated that Goff spent less time trying to convince me of one perspective or another (should young black people remain loyal Democratic voters? Is it best to vote independently of one’s racially charged political history?) and just let the facts speak for themselves – in a 2007 study she conducted with the help of Suffolk University Political Research Center, 35% of respondents age 18-24 identified as politically independent. Furthermore, “41% of all respondents said they were registered Democrats but declined to identify themselves as ‘committed Democrats’” – meaning African American loyalty to the Democratic party is declining with the passing of time.
Make of it what you will, I found the book to be very informative and revealing about a topic that tends to go relatively unnoticed.
Overall score: 7 – Refreshingly political.
More information on author Keli Goff at her website: www.keligoff.com