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Black Masculinity and the U.S. South

From Uncle Tom to Gangsta

RichT Richardson

Publication Year: 2007

This pathbreaking study of region, race, and gender reveals how we underestimate the South's influence on the formation of black masculinity at the national level. Many negative stereotypes of black men—often contradictory ones—have emerged from the ongoing historical traumas initiated by slavery. Are black men emasculated and submissive or hypersexed and violent? Nostalgic representations of black men have arisen as well: think of the philosophical, hardworking sharecropper or the abiding, upright preacher. To complicate matters, says Riché Richardson, blacks themselves appropriate these images for purposes never intended by their (mostly) white progenitors.

Starting with such well-known caricatures as the Uncle Tom and the black rapist, Richardson investigates a range of pathologies of black masculinity that derive ideological force from their associations with the South. Military policy, black-liberation discourse, and contemporary rap, she argues, are just some of the instruments by which egregious pathologies of black masculinity in southern history have been sustained. Richardson's sources are eclectic and provocative, including Ralph Ellison's fiction, Charles Fuller's plays, Spike Lee's films, Huey Newton's and Malcolm X's political rhetoric, the O. J. Simpson discourse, and the music production of Master P, the Cash Money Millionaires, and other Dirty South rappers.

Filled with new insights into the region's role in producing hierarchies of race and gender in and beyond their African American contexts, this new study points the way toward more epistemological frameworks for southern literature, southern studies, and gender studies.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: The New Southern Studies


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

I have been supported at various junctures of this book's development by people in and beyond the academy. It has been a privilege to live and work in intellectual community at the University of California, Davis, with such interlocutors as Elizabeth Freeman, Gayatri Gopinath, Gregory Dobbins, Jon Rossini, Michael Ziser, Desirée Martín, Seeta Chaganti, ClaireWaters ...

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pp. 1-22

... by the self-serving Bernard Belgrade and the progressive Belton Piedmont. In examining their conflicting strategies of racial uplift and the question of who is the better and truer "race man," the novel also points to distinctions and hierarchies that exist among African Americans on the basis of geography through a curious man simply referred to as "the Mississippian." ...

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CHAPTER 1. Lessons from Thomas Dixon to The Klansman

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pp. 23-72

No African American author writing in the post-Reconstruction era—beyond the obvious example of W. E. B. Du Bois—examined the issue of race and the status of blacks in the United States with an emphasis on the South more assertively, persistently, and prolifically than Charles Chesnutt. The founding of numerous historically black colleges; the rise of the ...

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CHAPTER 2. Charles Fuller's Southern Specter

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pp. 73-117

William Faulkner's first novel, Soldiers' Pay (1926), provides a visionary treatment of race, region, masculinity, and the military as well as intricate and detailed portraits of the soldier, which make it a compelling counterpoint for a reading of Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play (1981). I want to draw on it to help my critical effort of bringing into relief ideologies of black ...

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CHAPTER 3. Ralph Ellison's Rural Geography

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pp. 118-156

Geography is the most prominent structuring device in Nella Larsen's 1928 novella Quicksand, in which experiences on a journey across a range of settings, including two sojourns in the South, are all pivotal and fateful in the development of the tragic mulatta protagonist, Helga Crane. Larsen's emphasis on the rural South as a context for Helga's decline evokes the region's ...

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CHAPTER 4. Spike Lee's Uncle Toms and Urban Revolutionaries

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pp. 157-196

Bruce Perry's 1992 biography of Malcolm X was controversial due to a variety of claims, with the most provocative of them being that the young Malcolm engaged in same-sex relations with a white boy as a teenager—and later on as an unemployed young adult in New York—to earn income and to decrease his dependence on women for ...

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CHAPTER 5. Gangstas and Playas in the Dirty South

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pp. 197-228

Something strange has happened in the rap industry in recent years, given the profusion of artists ostensibly marketing themselves as southern or identifying with "the dirty South." Such artists have gained increasing popularity in the hip-hop arena nationally and, in some cases, globally. This seems strange because when rap emerged in the mid-1970s, the East Coast was ...


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pp. 229-238


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pp. 239-264


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pp. 265-284


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pp. 285-296

E-ISBN-13: 9780820336671
E-ISBN-10: 082033667X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820326092
Print-ISBN-10: 0820326097

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: The New Southern Studies
Series Editor Byline: Jon Smith and Riché Richardson, Series Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 608953814
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Black Masculinity and the U.S. South

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Regionalism -- Southern States.
  • Southern States -- Social conditions.
  • Southern States -- Intellectual life.
  • Sex role -- Southern States.
  • Masculinity -- Southern States.
  • Popular culture -- Southern States.
  • Popular music -- Southern States.
  • African American men in motion pictures.
  • African American men in literature.
  • African American men in popular culture -- Southern States.
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