Abstract

This article seeks to contribute to a discussion of the peculiar place of commercial black filmmaking in the cultural politics of the post-civil rights era United States. It argues that a recrudescence of antiblackness in popular culture has accompanied the growing clamor about "blacks in officialdom" that both liberal and conservative variants of multiculturalism have amplified over the last several decades, a clamor that reached fever pitch with the recent presidential election cycle. It considers whether setting this contradictory logic of representation alongside the continuing conditions of segregation that characterize black existence in the United States over the same period does not undermine too easy assertions about contemporary black inroads in state and civil society. More to the point, it suggests that such convergence complicates current thinking about an institutionalized black complicity with the structures of white supremacy, especially in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The various guises of black empowerment, particularly images of black masculinity as state authority, should not be simply contrasted with the associations of illegitimacy, dispossession, and violence that otherwise monopolize the signification of racial blackness, but rather the former should be understood as an extension of the latter. Director Antoine Fuqua's collaboration with Denzel Washington in Training Day (2001) provides a case study for the discussion, and Fuqua's professional ascent more generally articulates some of the political, economic, and cultural conditions for a popular and lucrative antiblack black visibility on a global scale.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 39-63
Launched on MUSE
2009-04-09
Open Access
No
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