Kyle T. Mays

Kyle T. Mays

Associate Professor

Phone: (310) 825-5621


Office: 1328 Rolfe Hall

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Associate ProfessorDepartment of African American Studies and American Indian Studies

Kyle T. Mays (he/his) is an Associate Professor of African American Studies, American Indian Studies, and History at UCLA. He is a transdisciplinary scholar of urban history and studies, Afro-Indigenous Studies, and contemporary popular culture. He is the author of Hip Hop Beats, Indigenous Rhymes: Modernity and Hip Hop in Indigenous North America (SUNY Press, 2018). He is currently finishing two manuscripts. The first, forthcoming with Beacon Press, is titled, An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States, which will be a part of their ReVisioning American History series. This book 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 manuscript is tentatively titled, Detroit vs. Every(body): The City of Dispossessions: African Americans, Indigenous Peoples, and the Creation of Modern Detroit (University of Pennsylvania Press, under contract). The book argues that the transformation of modern Detroit (from the late 19th until the emergency management era) is rooted in the simultaneous processes of Black American and Indigenous dispossession. He also has a forthcoming chapter, “Blackness and Indigeneity” in the collection, 400 Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019, Keisha Blain and Ibram Kendi (eds.), (New York: Random House, 2021). He has written for the Washington Post and other public venues.
He teaches courses on Afro-Indigenous history, popular culture, and urban studies. He works with students interested in comparative race and indigeneity, popular and expressive culture, and urban histories and contemporary experiences in the city.

Research & Teaching Interests

  • Indigenous studies
  • Afro-Indigenous studies
  • Indigenous popular culture
  • Critical Ethnic studies
  • Comparative race and ethnicity
  • Urban history


  • Ph.D. in the Department of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2015



  • Mays, K. An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States (Boston: Beacon Press), ReVisioning American History, (Expected 2021).
  • Mays, K. The City of Dispossessions: Africa Americans, Indigenous People, and the Making of Modern Detroit (University of Pennsylvania Press, expected, 2021).
  • 2018 Mays, K. Hip Hop Beats, Indigenous Rhymes: Modernity and Hip Hop in Indigenous North America (Albany: SUNY Press, 2018); “Native Traces” Series, edited by Jace Weaver & Scott Richard Lyons. Finalist, “Best First Book Prize” for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (2019)

Journal Articles

  • 2020 Rice, AJ & Mays, K., “The Boondocks, Black History, and Black Lives Matter: Or, Why Black Popular Culture Matters for Black Millennials.” Popular Culture Studies Journal, vol. 8(2): 49-67.
  • 2019 Mays, K. “Decolonial Hip Hop: Indigenous Hip Hop and Disrupting Settler Colonialism.” Cultural Studies, Vol. 33(3): 460-479.
  • 2016 Mays, K. “Pontiac’s Ghost in the Motor City: Indigeneity and the Discursive Construction of Modern Detroit.” The Middle West Review2(02): 115-142.
  • 2016 Mays, K. “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 Culture22(02): 195-209.
  • 2013 Mays, K. “Transnational Progressivism: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Universal Races Congress of 1911.” American Indian Quarterly 37(4): 244-261.

Book Chapters

  • 2021 Mays, K. “Blackness and Indigeneity.” In Keisha Blain and Ibram Kendi’s (eds.), 400 Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 (New York: Random House).
  • Mays, K. “Black Liberation and Indigenous Erasure: Black Belonging on Turtle Island from Black Power to Black Lives Matter.” In Emilio del Valle Escalante, Localizing
  • Decoloniality in Global Indigenous Studies (Durham: Duke University Press). (In press, expected 2020).
  • 2018 Mays, K. & Whalen, K. “Decolonizing Indigenous Education in the Postwar City: NativeWomen’s Activism from Southern California to the Motor City.” In Linda Smith, Eve Tuck, & K. Wayne Yang, Indigenous and Decolonization Studies in Education (Routledge: 116-130).
  • 2014 Mays, K. “Humanities and Sciences at Work: Liberatory Education for Millennials.” In Burton, A., Winkelmes, M.A., & Mays, K. (eds.). An Illinois Sampler: Teaching and Research on the Prairie. Urbana: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: 119-122.