This book explores key texts of the black gay culture of the 1980s and ’90s. Starting with an analysis of the political discourse in anthologies such as In the Life and Brother to Brother, it identifies the references to the Harlem Renaissance and the Protest Era as common elements of black gay discourse. This connection to African American cultural and political traditions legitimizes black gay identity and criticizes the construction of gay identity as white. Readings of Isaac Julien’s Looking for Langston, Samuel R. Delany’s “Atlantis: Model 1924” and The Motion of Light in Water, Melvin Dixon’s Vanishing Rooms, Randall Kenan’s A Visitation of Spirits, and Steven Corbin’s No Easy Place to Be demonstrate how these strategies of signifying are used in affirmative, humorous, and ironic ways.
From Jim Crow to Jay-Z traces black male representations to chattel slavery and American minstrelsy as early examples of fetishization and commodification of black male subjectivity. Continuing with diverse discussions including black action films, heavyweight prizefighting, Elvis Presley's performance of blackness, and white rappers such as Vanilla Ice and Eminem, White establishes a sophisticated framework for interpreting and critiquing black masculinity in hip-hop music and culture. Arguing that black music has undeniably shaped American popular culture and that hip-hop tropes have exerted a defining influence on young male aspirations and behavior, White draws a critical link between the body, musical sound, and the construction of identity.
A new critical edition of Sutton Griggs’s turn-of-the-twentieth-century novel, which continues to shed light on understandings of Black politics.
Sutton E. Griggs’s first novel, originally published in 1899, paints a searing picture of the violent enforcement of disfranchisement and Jim Crow racial segregation. Based on events of the time, including US imperial policies, revolutionary movements, and racial protests, Imperium in Imperio introduces the fictional Belton Piedmont and Bernard Belgrave as “future leaders of their race” and uses these characters to make sense of the violence that marked the dawn of the twentieth century. Taking on contemporary battles over separatism and integration, Griggs’s novel continues to play a crucial role in understandings of Black politics.
Edited and introduced by Tess Chakkalakal and Kenneth W. Warren, this new critical edition offers not only an incisive biographical and historical introduction to the novel and its author but also a wealth of references that make the events and characters of Griggs’s Imperium in Imperio, and its aftermath, accessible to readers today.
On a long dark road in deep East Texas, James Byrd Jr. was dragged to his death behind a pickup truck one summer night in 1998. The brutal modern-day lynching stunned people across America and left everyone at a loss to explain how such a heinous crime could possibly happen in our more racially enlightened times. Many eventually found an answer in the fact that two of the three men convicted of the murder had ties to the white supremacist Confederate Knights of America. In the ex-convict ringleader, Bill King, whose body was covered in racist and satanic tattoos, people saw the ultimate monster, someone so inhuman that his crime could be easily explained as the act of a racist psychopath. Few, if any, asked or cared what long dark road of life experiences had turned Bill King into someone capable of committing such a crime.
In this gripping account of the murder and its aftermath, Ricardo Ainslie builds an unprecedented psychological profile of Bill King that provides the fullest possible explanation of how a man who was not raised in a racist family, who had African American friends in childhood, could end up on death row for viciously killing a black man. Ainslie draws on exclusive in-prison interviews with King, as well as with Shawn Berry (another of the perpetrators), King's father, Jasper residents, and law enforcement and judicial officials, to lay bare the psychological and social forces—as well as mere chance—that converged in a murder on that June night. Ainslie delves into the whole of King's life to discover how his unstable family relationships and emotional vulnerability made him especially susceptible to the white supremacist ideology he adopted while in jail for lesser crimes.
With its depth of insight, Long Dark Road not only answers the question of why such a racially motivated murder happened in our time, but it also offers a frightening, cautionary tale of the urgent need to intervene in troubled young lives and to reform our violent, racist-breeding prisons. As Ainslie chillingly concludes, far from being an inhuman monster whom we can simply dismiss, "Bill King may be more like the rest of us than we care to believe."
The Before Columbus Foundation 2018 Winner of the AMERICAN BOOK AWARD
Tommy J. Curry’s provocative book The Man-Not is a justification for Black Male Studies. He posits that we should conceptualize the Black male as a victim, oppressed by his sex. The Man-Not, therefore,is a corrective of sorts, offering a concept of Black males that could challenge the existing accounts of Black men and boys desiring the power of white men who oppress them that has been proliferated throughout academic research across disciplines.
Curry argues that Black men struggle with death and suicide, as well as abuse and rape, and their genred existence deserves study and theorization. This book offers intellectual, historical, sociological, and psychological evidence that the analysis of patriarchy offered by mainstream feminism (including Black feminism) does not yet fully understand the role that homoeroticism, sexual violence, and vulnerability play in the deaths and lives of Black males. Curry challenges how we think of and perceive the conditions that actually affect all Black males.
The “invisible men” of sociologist Adia Harvey Wingfield’s urgent and timely No More Invisible Man are African American professionals who fall between extremely high status, high-profile black men and the urban underclass. Her compelling interview study considers middle-class, professional black men and the challenges, obstacles, and opportunities they encounter in white male–dominated occupations.
No More Invisible Man chronicles these men’s experiences as a tokenized minority in the workplace to show how issues of power and inequality exist—especially as they relate to promotion, mobility, and developing occupational networks. Wingfield’s intersectional analysis deftly charts the ways that gender, race, and class collectively shape black professional men’s work experiences.
In its examination of men’s interactions with women and other men, as well as men’s performances of masculinity and their emotional demeanors in these jobs, No More Invisible Man extends our understanding of racial- and gender-based dynamics in professional work.
Red, White, Black, and Blue began as a collaborative memoir by William M. “Bill” Drennen, a European American, and Kojo (William T.) Jones, an African American. These Appalachian men grew up in the South Hills section of Charleston, West Virginia. As boys they played on the same Little League baseball team and experienced just one year together as schoolmates after the all-white Thomas Jefferson Junior High School was desegregated in 1955. After that, class, race, and choice separated their life experiences for forty-five years.
In 1992 both had returned to Charleston from lives mostly lived elsewhere. They decided to work together on a memoir of growing up through the trauma of desegregation. Their aim was to foster understanding between their distinct cultures for themselves and for their own and future generations. Dolores Johnson, in editing the two texts, observed two very different modes of expression: Bill Drennen's narrative is threaded with references that connote wealth, status, and personal privilege; Kojo Jones's memoir is interwoven with African American signification, protest, and moral outrage.
The stories of their Appalachian upbringing in homes less than a mile apart are anecdotal in nature, but their diverse uses of the English language as they endeavor to communicate shared memories and common meanings reveal significant cultural connotations that transform standard American English into two different languages, rendering interracial communication problematic. Dr. Johnson's analysis is to the point.
Red, White, Black, and Blue is a groundbreaking approach to studying not only cultural linguistics but also the cultural heritage of a historic time and place in America. It gives witness to the issues of race and class inherent in the way we write, speak, and think.
Dandyism was initially imposed on black men in eighteenth-century England, as the Atlantic slave trade and an emerging culture of conspicuous consumption generated a vogue in dandified black servants. “Luxury slaves” tweaked and reworked their uniforms, and were soon known for their sartorial novelty and sometimes flamboyant personalities. Tracing the history of the black dandy forward to contemporary celebrity incarnations such as Andre 3000 and Sean Combs, Miller explains how black people became arbiters of style and how they have historically used the dandy’s signature tools—clothing, gesture, and wit—to break down limiting identity markers and propose new ways of fashioning political and social possibility in the black Atlantic world. With an aplomb worthy of her iconographic subject, she considers the black dandy in relation to nineteenth-century American literature and drama, W. E. B. Du Bois’s reflections on black masculinity and cultural nationalism, the modernist aesthetics of the Harlem Renaissance, and representations of black cosmopolitanism in contemporary visual art.
A geographic study of race and gender, Spatializing Blackness casts light upon the ubiquitous--and ordinary--ways carceral power functions in places where African Americans live. Moving from the kitchenette to the prison cell, and mining forgotten facts from sources as diverse as maps and memoirs, Rashad Shabazz explores the myriad architectures of confinement, policing, surveillance, urban planning, and incarceration. In particular, he investigates how the ongoing carceral effort oriented and imbued black male bodies and gender performance from the Progressive Era to the present. The result is an essential interdisciplinary study that highlights the racialization of space, the role of containment in subordinating African Americans, the politics of mobility under conditions of alleged freedom, and the ways black men cope with--and resist--spacial containment.
A timely response to the massive upswing in carceral forms within society, Spatializing Blackness examines how these mechanisms came to exist, why society aimed them against African Americans, and the consequences for black communities and black masculinity both historically and today.
Although his story has been told countless times--by performers from Ma Rainey, Cab Calloway, and the Isley Brothers to Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown, and Taj Mahal--no one seems to know who Stagolee really is. Stack Lee? Stagger Lee? He has gone by all these names in the ballad that has kept his exploits before us for over a century. Delving into a subculture of St. Louis known as "Deep Morgan," Cecil Brown emerges with the facts behind the legend to unfold the mystery of Stack Lee and the incident that led to murder in 1895.
How the legend grew is a story in itself, and Brown tracks it through variants of the song "Stack Lee"--from early ragtime versions of the '20s, to Mississippi John Hurt's rendition in the '30s, to John Lomax's 1940s prison versions, to interpretations by Lloyd Price, James Brown, and Wilson Pickett, right up to the hip-hop renderings of the '90s. Drawing upon the works of James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison, Brown describes the powerful influence of a legend bigger than literature, one whose transformation reflects changing views of black musical forms, and African Americans' altered attitudes toward black male identity, gender, and police brutality. This book takes you to the heart of America, into the soul and circumstances of a legend that has conveyed a painful and elusive truth about our culture.
The lumber industry employed more African American men than any southern economic sector outside agriculture. Yet little scholarship exists on these workers and their times.
William P. Jones merges interviews with archival sources to explore black men and women's changing relationship to industrial work in the southern sawmill communities of Elizabethtown, North Carolina; Chapman, Alabama; and Bogalusa, Louisiana. By placing black lumber workers within the history of southern industrialization, Jones reveals that industrial employment was another facet of the racial segregation and political disfranchisement that defined black life in the Jim Crow South. He also examines an older tradition of southern sociology that viewed industrialization as socially disruptive and morally corrupting to African American social and cultural traditions rooted in agriculture.
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