Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture

Univ. of Illinois. Mar. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9780252085666. pap. $26.95. SOC SCI
Scientists and theorists once believed that Africans (and African Americans) were incapable of memory, arguing that their memory simply did not exist or, if it existed at all, it would garner only negative memories, such as from the slave trade or slavery itself. This viewpoint has long been abandoned; however, the notion of nostalgia or memory continues to be a point of contention based on prevalent trauma of racial violence, microaggressions, or racial injustice. Ahad-Legardy (English, Loyola Univ. Chicago; Freud Upside Down) argues that the Black community is more than capable of looking at the past with fondness. She found that many people express positive nostalgia through various forms: art, literature, film, and music. Ahad-Legardy proves her arguments of positive nostalgia in chapters and subchapters that focus on vivid examples, such as James McBride’s 2013 novel The Good Lord Bird, the award-winning 1998 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and the cultural resonance of the 2005 film Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.
VERDICT Though a scholarly work, this account is an important dissection of looking beyond the traumas of the past to find the happiness that existed (and exists) within the Black community.
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