**A New York Times Editors' Choice Pick**
**One of Kirkus Reviews' Best Nonfiction Books of 2022**
*Named a Best Book of September 2022 by The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Kirkus, and Ms. Magazine, and Recommended by USA Today, POLITICO, and Oprah Daily*
"Collins-Dexter compellingly ties her engaging assessments of the Black skinheads’ artistic output to a broader political critique, often drawing on the history of media and labor movements and social justice... Each essay reflects deep research, passion and respect for her subject."
—The New York Times
"Brandi Collins-Dexter — a scholar, activist and overall poignant voice on race and accountability (as well as South Sider) — writes in Black Skinhead that she found in Kanye West a vessel for thinking about Black voters and rising disillusionment with Democrat politics. From there she spins a vibrant history of Black voters and assumptions."
—The Chicago Tribune
“How can the most reliable Democratic voters be the most dissatisfied with the Democratic Party? Why does the political class obsess over the shifting loyalties of white voters but ignore Black voters who are experiencing the same doubts? To explain why—and what to do about it—Brandi Collins-Dexter seamlessly weaves political analysis with cultural criticism, historical perspectives with deeply personal stories. She not only shows us what Black voters are yearning for, she tells us what will happen if we do not pay attention.”
—Heather McGhee, New York Times bestselling author of The Sum of Us
"Brandi Collins-Dexter has written the book I wanted to read about Black politics in America not just in the wake of Donald Trump's presidency, but after the elections of Barack Obama and Joe Biden failed to deliver material results for Black people. With nuance, pathos, and an unflinching honesty, Collins-Dexter carefully explores the "unsatisfied" and "unsettled" relationship between the Democratic Party and the Black voters (and would-be voters) it takes for granted. She seamlessly and deftly weaves between what she's learned from thinking partners as different as Kanye West, his mother Donda West, historian Leah Wright Rigueur, activist Kwame Ture, Black Trump supporters, radio host Charlamagne tha God, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and—most personally—her late, basketball-dribbling father. The essays of Black Skinhead will haunt you, inspire you and make you consider contemporary Black politics in America in profoundly new ways."
—Steven W. Thrasher, PhD, author of The Viral Underclass
“An influential media commentator on racial justice explores politics and Black voters in this sharp blend of memoir and cultural criticism… Featuring a vivid mix of hard data, anecdotal details, and scholarly research, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in politics and Black lives in America. A remarkable work that leaves us feeling hopeful for change.”
–Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Tracing potentially tectonic shifts in American political behavior, Dexter-Collins here demonstrates impressive range and insight. The title she chose for her debut book references Black people who strongly reject a status quo that doesn’t serve them, including the taken-for-granted alignment with Democratic Party politics. To illuminate the underlying roots of this alienation, Collins-Dexter blends ideological and cultural analysis with intimate personal narrative."
"Political activist Collins-Dexter’s essay collection is timely as well as pointed. In it, she argues that Democrats have taken Black voters for granted, and that the consequences of this mistake have already begun — and will accelerate."
—The New York Times,"15 Works of Nonfiction to Read This Fall"
“Black Skinhead is the story we need, right now, of how Black civil society is disintegrating—and how we ignore it at our peril. Sharp, witty, poignant and honest, Black Skinhead is a tale of our generation, and points to what we might do to stop ourselves from careening off a cliff of nihilism. In this political age, there is no more important task.”
—Alicia Garza, principal of Black Futures Lab, co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, and author of The Purpose of Power
“Black Skinhead masterfully weaves together a compelling personal story about coming of age as an activist disenchanted with the complacent attitude of politicians toward the needs of Black Americans. Brandi Collins-Dexter guides the reader to see the world as she sees it: lyrical, political, and cynical, at times. She does not take democracy in America as inevitable, but rather as an ideal to be fought for, where all political parties must continue to earn the votes of Black Americans. If you’re disheartened by party posturing, Black Skinhead is the political education you’ve been waiting for.”
—Dr. Joan Donovan, research director at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center and author of Meme Wars
“Brandi Collins-Dexter knows how important it is to understand who Black people really are. Her eye-opening research, analysis, and storytelling reveal important undercurrents in Black culture, anticipating the major political waves they will soon become. Black Skinhead challenges every assumption and shows us how to see past the fiction of who politicians and pundits want us to be. This book cannot be ignored.”
—Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change
“With Black Skinhead, readers will know what her fellow organizers have long known—that Brandi Collins- Dexter’s indispensable leadership is propelled by rigorous research, expertise and great clarity of voice.”
—dream hampton, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, producer, and writer
"In her powerful essays, Collins-Dexter—an influential media commentator and former senior campaign director for Color of Change—explores the fragile alliance between the Democratic Party and Black voters in a mix of memoir, research, and analysis. Recommended for everyone interested in the U.S. political landscape, Black lives, and identity in America."
“Black Skinhead should be a wake-up call to politicians and voters alike. Brandi Collins-Dexter challenges us to journey into the worlds of Black voters and people across the political spectrum. There were times where it felt uncomfortable, but the implications unearthed throughout the book must not be ignored.”
—Michael Tubbs, former mayor of Stockton, CA and author of The Deeper the Roots
"Seamlessly balancing the personal, political, and cultural, and enlivened with a sharp sense of wit, these standout pieces strike an essential note of warning for Democrats."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
An influential media commentator on racial justice explores politics and Black voters in this sharp blend of memoir and cultural criticism.
In her debut book, Collins-Dexter, a visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, chronicles her “journey to get to the heart of Black political identity, a process that involved extensive interviews with Black people from all across the ideological spectrum.” She narrates a powerful story “about a Black America that had become disillusioned with the failed promises of their country.” In the 1960s, before it became known for White nationalism, the skinhead movement was a political movement comprised of the British working class, most of whom felt “left behind” and disillusioned by economic and political infrastructures. The author uses this idea as a launching pad to deconstruct a host of cultural frameworks involving politics and place in communities around the U.S., and she offers a well-rendered critique of the implicit attitude that Black voters prefer Democrats or Black candidates. Through the lens of Black voters, Collins-Dexter examines often complex political concepts in an accessible way—Kanye West’s troubling persona is a recurring topic—but the rigor of her scholarship is never in question. In the section on populism, the author employs wrestling lingo and characters from the World Wrestling Federation to describe political ideology from the left and right. “With its exaggerated narratives of good, evil, and the struggle of the everyman,” she writes, “[wrestling] is the perfect way to understand populism—its pitfalls and its undeniable draw.” Reminiscent of Notes From No Man’s Land, by Eula Biss, this collection is well constructed and incisively argued. Collins-Dexter begins and ends with poignant memories of her father, effectively tying the personal to the universal. Featuring a vivid mix of hard data, anecdotal details, and scholarly research, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in politics and Black lives in America.
A remarkable work that leaves us feeling hopeful for change.