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Scripting the Black Masculine Body

Identity, Discourse, and Racial Politics in Popular Media

Ronald L. Jackson II

Publication Year: 2006

Scripting the Black Masculine Body traces the origins of Black body politics in the United States and its contemporary manifestations in popular cultural productions. From early blackface cinema through contemporary portrayals of the Black body in hip-hop music and film, Ronald L. Jackson II examines how African American identities have been socially constructed, constituted, and publicly understood, and argues that popular music artists and film producers often are complicit with Black body stereotypes. Jackson offers a communicative perspective on body politics through a blend of social scientific and humanities approaches and offers possibilities for the liberation of the Black body from its current ineffectual and paralyzing representations.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series, Negotiating Identity: Discourses, Politics, Processes, and Praxes


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Title Page

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p. ix

First, all honor for making this book possible goes to God, who has continually expanded my life. Moreover, I am thankful for my family, and especially for my mother Sharon Prather who has taught me more about being a man than any man ever has. Other strong women in my life who have influenced my manhood are my wife, Ricci Jackson, my late grandmother Thelma Gross, ...

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INTRODUCTION: Race and Corporeal Politics

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pp. 1-7

Much of the literature on the social construction of race, including the works excerpted above, has convincingly argued that the body is the primary site and surface of race and representation (Baker-Fletcher, 1996; Bordo, 1994; Dyson, 1994; Hall, 1997; hooks, 1995b). Certainly, the interpretations of mass-mediated inscriptions1 of the body reveal the hidden contours of psychic and institutional investitures that drive, indeed motivate, the producers of ...

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1. Origins of Black Body Politics

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pp. 9-47

DuBois asks, “How does it feel to be a problem?” The question I will ask and answer in this chapter is, “How did Black bodies become a problem in the first place?” The social assignment of Black bodies to an underclass is a historical conundrum that has multiple origins, two of which are the institutions of slavery and the mass media. This chapter will explain how a set of racial ...

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2. Scripting the Black Bodyin Popular Media: Exploring Process

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pp. 49-71

In the previous chapter, I presented a genealogical criticism of Black body politics in the United States, stemming both from enslavement as well as early minstrelsy and leading up to contemporary mass-mediated stereotypes that have become nothing less than imagistic imprints of Black bodies. In this chapter, I will explore Black corporeal inscriptions in various popular media ...

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3. Black Masculine Scripts

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pp. 73-101

Sociologist Manning Marable (1995) asks, “What is a Black man in an institutionally racist society, in the social system of modern capitalist America?” (p. 26). He answers his own query by contending that the discursive labels placed on Black male reality characterizes him as a social contaminant. This is an ascription that serves to pejoratively encapsulate his existence, forcing him to respond. Cornel West (1993) would perhaps reply that the Black body ...

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4.“If It Feels This Good Gettin’ Used”: Exploring the Hypertext of Black Sexuality in Hip-Hop Music and Pimp Movies

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pp. 103-126

Much of the assault on the soulfulness of African-American people has come from a White patriarchal, capitalist-dominated music industry, which essentially uses, with their consent and collusion, Black bodies and voices to be messengers of doom and death. Gangsta rap lets us know Black life is worth nothing, that love does not exist among us, that no education for critical consciousness ...

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5.Toward an Integrated Theory of Black Masculinity

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pp. 127-141

Throughout the book until this point, I have problematized representations of Black bodies in popular culture. I have presented the origins, history, politics, and stereotypes of Black bodies in the United States. I have also assessed damage to Black representations as caused by Black popular culture. We are now in desperate need of remedies and paradigmatic resolutions that will assist in ...

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Epilogue: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

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pp. 143-152

It is my hope that this book offers instructive insights about how Black masculine bodies have been historically situated and are contemporarily scripted. I chose to introduce discussion of various sites where this occurs rather than writing a monograph that emphasizes a single media type or a single type of inscription. I believe the scripting paradigm has emancipatory potential for ...


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pp. 153-155


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pp. 157-169


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pp. 171-179

E-ISBN-13: 9780791482377
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791466254
Print-ISBN-10: 0791466256

Page Count: 189
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: SUNY series, Negotiating Identity: Discourses, Politics, Processes, and Praxes
Series Editor Byline: Ronald L. Jackson II See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 64560489
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Scripting the Black Masculine Body

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Discourse analysis -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • United States -- Race relations.
  • African American men -- Social conditions.
  • Masculinity -- Political aspects -- United States
  • Human body -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Human body -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • African Americans -- Race identity.
  • African Americans in popular culture.
  • African Americans and mass media.
  • Mass media -- Political aspects -- United States.
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