Darkest America

Darkest America

Black Minstrelsy From Slavery to Hip-hop

Book - 2012 | 1st ed
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Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen investigate the complex history of black minstrelsy, adopted in the mid-nineteenth century by African American performers who played the grinning blackface fool to entertain black and white audiences. We now consider minstrelsy an embarrassing relic, but once blacks and whites alike saw it as a black art form--and embraced it as such. And, as the authors reveal, black minstrelsy remains deeply relevant to popular black entertainment, particularly in the work of contemporary artists like Dave Chappelle, Flavor Flav, Spike Lee, and Lil Wayne. Darkest America explores the origins, heyday, and present-day manifestations of this tradition, exploding the myth that it was a form of entertainment that whites foisted on blacks, and shining a sure-to-be controversial light on how these incendiary performances can be not only demeaning but also, paradoxically, liberating.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, ©2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780393070989
Branch Call Number: 791.1209 TAYLOR
Characteristics: xvi, 364 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Austen, Jake


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Nov 18, 2015

A mostly fascinating book about a fascinating topic: blackface, minstrelsy, and ideas of "blackness." The two Chicago-based authors are less interested in the history (for that check out "Love and Theft") and more in the cultural aspects and how there are contemporary examples on film and television and in music, especially hip-hop. It's mostly insightful and always provocative, getting you to think about the images we see of blackness and how it can as much of a construct as gender or sexuality. It might also encourage you to see out Spike Lee' s minor flop, "Bamboozled"; one montage they call "the greatest survey of racially insensitive images ever assembled." A good read both for those interested in race and cultural studies.


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