Kyle T. Mays

Kyle T. Mays is a Black and Saginaw Anishinaabe transdisciplinary scholar who works at the intersection of Afro-Indigenous Studies, urban history and studies, and Indigenous popular culture. He is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of African American Studies, American Indian Studies, and the Department of History at University of California, Los Angeles. Mays’ research interests include the histories of twentieth century urban Native America (especially Detroit), contemporary urban youth culture, language and literacies, Indigenous expressive culture, and global indigenous gender/sexuality.

Mays is the author of Hip Hop Beats, Indigenous Rhymes: Modernity and Hip Hop in Indigenous North America (2018), whichlooks at how Indigenous people use hip hop culture to assert their sovereignty and challenge settler colonialism. From rapping about land and water rights from Flint to Standing Rock, to remixing “traditional” beading with hip hop aesthetics, the book examines how Indigenous people are using hip hop to challenge their ongoing dispossession, disrupt racist stereotypes and images of Indigenous people, contest white supremacy and heteropatriarchy, and reconstruct ideas of a progressive masculinity. In addition, this book carefully traces the idea of authenticity; that is, the common notion that, by engaging in a Black culture, Indigenous people are losing their “traditions.”

Mays is also the author of two forthcoming books. The first, An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States (Beacon Press, 2021), which argues that African enslavement and Indigenous dispossession have been central to the founding of the United States, and explores how Black and Indigenous peoples have resisted U.S. democracy from the founding of the U.S. to the present. The second, City of Dispossessions: Indigenous Peoples, African Americans, and the Creation of Modern Detroit (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022), examines the transformation of modern Detroit (from the late nineteenth century until the emergency management era) and how it is rooted in the simultaneous processes of Black American and Indigenous dispossession. 

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Publications (2000-2021):

Mays, Kyle T. City of Dispossessions Indigenous Peoples, African Americans, and the Creation of Modern Detroit. Politics and Culture in Modern America series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Forthcoming 2022.

Mays, Kyle T. An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States. ReVisioning American History series. Boston: Beacon Press. Forthcoming 2021.

Mays, Kyle T. “A Provocation of the Modes of Black Indigeneity.” Ethnic Studies Review 44, no. 2. (2021): 41-50. 

Mays, Kyle T. “Blackness and Indigeneity.” In 400 Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019, edited by Keisha Blain and Ibram Kendi, 123–5. New York: Random House, 2020.

Rice, A.J. & Kyle T. Mays. “The Boondocks, Black History, and Black Lives Matter: Or, Why Black Popular Culture Matters for Black Millennials.” The Popular Culture Studies Journal 8, no. 2. (2020): 49–67.

Mays, Kyle T. “Decolonial Hip Hop: Indigenous Hip Hop and Disrupting Settler Colonialism.” Cultural Studies 33, no. 3 (2019): 460–479.

Mays, Kyle T. & Whalen, K. “Decolonizing Indigenous Education in the Postwar City: Native Women’s Activism from Southern California to the Motor City.” In Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education: Mapping the Long View, edited by Linda Smith, Eve Tuck, & K. Wayne Yang, 116–130. New York: Routledge, 2018.  

Mays, Kyle T. Hip Hop Beats, Indigenous Rhymes: Modernity and Hip Hop in Indigenous North America. “Native Traces” Series. Albany: SUNY Press, 2018.

Mays, Kyle T. “Pontiac’s Ghost in the Motor City: Indigeneity and the Discursive Construction of Modern Detroit.” The Middle West Review 2, no. 2 (2016): 115–142.

Mays, Kyle T. “Promoting Sovereignty, Rapping Mshki (Medicine): A Critical Anishinaabe Reading of Rapper Tall Paul’s ‘Prayers in a Song.’” Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 22, no. 2 (2016): 195–209.

Mays, Kyle T. “Humanities and Sciences at Work: Liberatory Education for Millennials.” In An Illinois Sampler: Teaching and Research on the Prairie, edited by Burton, A., Winkelmes, M.A., & Mays, Kyle T., 119–122. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014.

Mays, Kyle T. “Transnational Progressivism: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Universal Races Congress of 1911.” American Indian Quarterly 37, no. 4 (2013): 244–261.