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Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of by E. Patrick Johnson PDF

By E. Patrick Johnson

ISBN-10: 0822331543

ISBN-13: 9780822331544

Performance artist and pupil E. Patrick Johnson’s provocative examine examines how blackness is appropriated and performed—toward generally divergent ends—both inside of and outdoors African American tradition. Appropriating Blackness develops from the competition that blackness within the usa is inevitably a politicized identity—avowed and disavowed, beautiful and repellent, fastened and malleable. Drawing on functionality thought, queer experiences, literary research, movie feedback, and ethnographic fieldwork, Johnson describes how diversified constituencies again and again attempt to prescribe the limits of "authentic" blackness and the way functionality highlights the futility of such enterprises.

Johnson appears to be like at numerous websites of played blackness, together with Marlon Riggs’s influential documentary Black Is . . . Black Ain’t and comedic workouts by means of Eddie Murphy, David Alan Grier, and Damon Wayans. He analyzes nationalist writings through Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver, the vernacular of black homosexual tradition, an oral historical past of his grandmother’s event as a household employee within the South, gospel tune as played through a white Australian choir, and pedagogy in a functionality reports lecture room. via exploring the divergent goals and results of those performances—ranging from resisting racism, sexism, and homophobia to with the exception of sexual dissidents from the black community—Johnson deftly analyzes the a number of significations of blackness and their myriad political implications. His reflexive account considers his personal complicity, as ethnographer and instructor, in authenticating narratives of blackness.

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Extra resources for Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity

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In Black Is, Riggs juxtaposes Davis’s ‘‘radical’’ celebrity status as captured in a film clip from her arraignment when she was arrested on kidnapping charges during her antiprison protest days, with a clip of her narrative about the misogynist black male leader. As with the concurrent events of Jackson’s vision and black women’s activism, Riggs’s presentation of Davis’s black cultural work in the movement resists the black male leader’s attempts to diminish Davis’s and other women’s power. Black Is also features gay black dancer Bill T.

I wear kente cloth and have kente cloth in my house, but I don’t confuse that with my identity. ’’ And in one of his many appearances in the film, poet 26 The Pot Is Brewing Essex Hemphill expresses his concern when cultural pride as manifested through wearing African garb or giving up ‘‘the master’s name’’ becomes fundamentalist dogma that creates a boundary around the category of blackness. Hemphill says, ‘‘Putting on our kentes and whatever cloths and importing from West Africa—all of that’s really wonderful.

29 It’s a Dick Thang, You Wouldn’t Understand: Blackness and Gender In addition to issues of class and color, Riggs unhinges the link between hegemonic masculinity and authentic blackness. Beginning with his early childhood, Riggs sets the stage for what he sees as the masculinization of blackness, a black masculinity that disables communication between him and his father. Drawing on the ‘‘Silence = Death’’ slogan made popular by act up in order to compel individuals to speak openly about their (homo)sexuality and about aids, Riggs chronicles the silence surrounding his sexuality, a silence that excluded him from black masculinity.

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