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The Greatest Taboo: Homosexuality in Black Communities.

The Greatest Taboo: Homosexuality in Black Communities edited by Delroy Constantine-Simms, forward by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Alyson Books, $16.95, January 2001, ISBN 1-5.55-83564-3

Constantine-Simms has gathered scholars, historians and activists--from bell hooks to Carey Alan Johnson and Earl Ofari Hutchinson--to discuss such topics as "Homosexuality in Africa" and "Iconic Signifiers of the Gay Harlem Renaissance." Gloria Wekker offers an insightful perspective on female sexual behaviors in the diaspora that reflect both female and male Western sexual behavior. Similarly, a piece by Dwight A. McBride analyzes heterosexism, patriarchy, black homophobia, black sexism and the racist hegemonic structure that give them support. Both stand at the forefront of Constantine-Simms' attempt to establish an enlightening conversation between heterosexual and same-gender-loving black communities.

Each section of The Greatest Taboo could be the foundation of its own book, which may lead to a slightly overwhelmed feeling among some readers. Unfortunately, neither the sections nor the essays establish a cohesive dialogue with each other. The collection needs a unifying voice around which the selected essays could have been formed and sent in a meaningful direction. The more academic pieces offer little help for a real-world problem. Essayists theorize queerness and problematize racism and black homophobia to an extent so excessive as to restrict their work to the realm of academia. The opportunity of such a book should be in the way it galvanizes an audience and hurdles us towards engagement and change. One can only hope the message of this important collection avoids getting lost in the ivy.
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Jones, Doug
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:255
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