Black History Month offers not only the occasion to consider the innumerable episodes in which Black figures and communities have shaped the story of America, but it also asks us to invert that very lens on ourselves contemporaneously: to examine our own position in history, to question the antecedents of our moment, and to collaborate on our future steps, towards the hope of a brighter and more just horizon.

Join us in this reflection throughout the month, as we highlight select new releases, as well as titles from our backlist, that speak to this profound legacy.

Mothering While Black
Boundaries and Burdens of Middle-Class Parenthood

by Dawn Marie Dow

“In this illuminating in-depth study of sixty African-American middle-class mothers, Dawn Dow reveals the unspoken work they do to help their children navigate a racialized world…As one mother told Dow wearily, ‘We eat racism for breakfast.’ Even the normalcy of being a working mother with a child-tending grandparent—as part of a ‘normal’ work-family balance—all this is part of mothering while black. Hugely important, insightful, and wise, this is a book for every parent—and child.”—Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of The Second Shift and Strangers in Their Own Land

Mothering While Black examines the complex lives of the African American middle class—in particular, black mothers and the strategies they use to raise their children to maintain class status while simultaneously defining and protecting their children’s “authentically black” identities. At the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, work, family, and culture, sociologist Dawn Marie Dow sheds light on the exclusion of African American middle-class mothers from the dominant cultural experience of middle-class motherhood. In doing so, it reveals the painful truth of the decisions that black mothers must make to ensure the safety, well-being, and future prospects of their children.

Chocolate Cities
The Black Map of American Life

by Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria F. Robinson

“If Chocolate Cities were itself made of chocolate, it would come in a variety of forms: the central theses of the book like unsweetened cacao nibs, true and deep-flavored, long-lasting, challenging, surprising. Census data as chocolate bar, scored into bite-size forms. Musical references like the aroma of chocolate, wafting through the room. And the personal stories Robinson and Hunter delve into are multi-layered, well-baked undertakings.”—Memphis: The City Magazine

From Central District Seattle to Harlem to Holly Springs, Black people have built a dynamic network of cities and towns where Black culture is maintained, created, and defended. But imagine—what if current maps of Black life are wrong? Chocolate Cities offers a refreshing and persuasive rendering of the United States—a “Black map” that more accurately reflects the lived experiences and the future of Black life in America. Drawing on film, fiction, music, and oral history, Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria F. Robinson trace the Black American experience of race, place, and liberation, mapping it from Emancipation to now. As the United States moves toward a majority minority society, Chocolate Cities provides a provocative, broad, and necessary assessment of how racial and ethnic minorities make and change America’s social, economic, and political landscape.

Blue-Chip Black
Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle Class

by Karyn R. Lacy

Blue-Chip Black expertly captures the diversity among African Americans, and particularly among African Americans in the middle class. Lacy’s exploration of how black families negotiate the murky and sometimes combustible terrains of race, class, and place illuminates the hard work that goes into forming and claiming a particular identity.”—Mary Pattillo, author of Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril in a Black Middle Class Neighborhood

As Karyn R. Lacy’s innovative work in the suburbs of Washington, DC, reveals, there is a continuum of middle-classness among blacks, ranging from lower-middle class to middle-middle class to upper-middle class. Focusing on the latter two, Lacy explores an increasingly important social and demographic group: middle-class blacks who live in middle-class suburbs where poor blacks are not present. These “blue-chip black” suburbanites earn well over fifty thousand dollars annually and work in predominantly white professional environments. Lacy examines the complicated sense of identity that individuals in these groups craft to manage their interactions with lower-class blacks, middle-class whites, and other middle-class blacks as they seek to reap the benefits of their middle-class status.

Invisible Families
Gay Identities, Relationships, and Motherhood among Black Women

by Mignon Moore

“Mignon R. Moore has given Black and African-American lesbians a voice in her book. . . . Not only will this book give visibility and light to African-American lesbian families, but social sciences researchers will cite the construction, development, and conclusions from Moore’s study for years to come.”—Rachel Wexelbaum, Lambda Literary

Mignon R. Moore brings to light the family life of a group that has been largely invisible—gay women of color—in a book that challenges long-standing ideas about racial identity, family formation, and motherhood. Drawing from interviews and surveys of one hundred black gay women in New York City, Invisible Families explores the ways that race and class have influenced how these women understand their sexual orientation, find partners, and form families. Overturning generalizations about lesbian families derived largely from research focused on white, middle-class feminists, Invisible Families reveals experiences within black American and Caribbean communities as it asks how people with multiple stigmatized identities imagine and construct an individual and collective sense of self.