“Black Ops: Black Masculinity and the War on Terror” argues that pop culture representations of black masculinity over the last ten years have worked to justify the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the larger US war on terror by paradoxically linking the civil rights movement and the larger history of US racial oppression to US Empire. Through an analysis of Colin Powell’s 2003 testimony in front of the UN Security Council, the television show The Unit, and the rap album Live from Iraq produced by a veteran while serving in Iraq, the essay shows how the historic vulnerability of the black, male body to lynching and discrimination and the civil rights movement’s efforts to overcome that history have helped produce a popular imaginary in which the United States is both uniquely vulnerable to terrorist attack and omnipotent in the face of such attacks.


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pp. 35-67
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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