Sense of Place, Politics of Style, and Racial Crossovers in Postwar New York City
Relations between Italian Americans and African Americans have been often tense, marked by racism, competition on the labor and housing market, and occasional violence. In the 1950s and 1960s Italian Americans in New York and other cities, along with other white ethnics, resisted urban change and supported residential segregation. However, in the field of popular music, the two groups have regularly exchanged mutual appreciation for the talent, style, and authenticity of the other. The chapter focus on Italian American artists’ hegemonic presence in a black musical genre (doo-wop) to show how popular and consumer culture provided the space for otherwise impossible cross-cultural exchanges at the dawn of the civil-rights era.
Keywords: doo-wop, rock and roll, popular music, Italian Americans, African Americans, race, ethnicity, working-class life and culture, New York City history, 1950s, consumer culture, popular culture, lifestyle
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