Darkest America

Darkest America

Black Minstrelsy From Slavery to Hip-hop

Book - 2012
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Baker & Taylor
Investigates the origin and heyday of black minstrelsy and discusses whether or not the art form is actually still alive in the work of contemporary performers--from Dave Chappelle and Flavor Flav to Spike Lee.

Norton Pub
An exploration and celebration of a controversial tradition that, contrary to popular opinion, is alive and active after more than 150 years.
Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen investigate the complex history of black minstrelsy, adopted in the mid-nineteenth century by African American performers who played the grinning blackface fool to entertain black and white audiences. We now consider minstrelsy an embarrassing relic, but once blacks and whites alike saw it as a black art form—and embraced it as such. And, as the authors reveal, black minstrelsy remains deeply relevant to popular black entertainment, particularly in the work of contemporary artists like Dave Chappelle, Flavor Flav, Spike Lee, and Lil Wayne. Darkest America explores the origins, heyday, and present-day manifestations of this tradition, exploding the myth that it was a form of entertainment that whites foisted on blacks, and shining a sure-to-be controversial light on how these incendiary performances can be not only demeaning but also, paradoxically, liberating.

Book News
Taylor and Aston explore the enduring impact and practice of black minstrelsy, taking examples from stage, radio, music and song, film, and television, and looking at the positive as well as negative capacity to communicate in black minstrelsy. They consider diverse artists, such as Dave Chappelle, Paul Robeson, Spike Lee, Bill Cosby, as well the 19th-century origins of black-face and associated minstrelsy. To that end, they argue that black minstrels were integral to bringing black, rural folk-culture into mainstream American culture. This study is a sober, but by no means apolitical analysis of black minstrelsy in American culture. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Baker
& Taylor

Investigates the origin and heyday of black minstrelsy, which in modern times is considered an embarrassment, and discusses whether or not the art form is actually still alive in the work of contemporary performers--from Dave Chappelle and Flavor Flav to Spike Lee. 8,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : W. W. Norton, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780393070989
0393070980
Branch Call Number: 791.12 T219d
Characteristics: xvi, 364 p. : ill. ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Austen, Jake

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lukasevansherman
Nov 18, 2015

A mostly fascinating book about a fascinating topic: blackface, minstrelsy, and ideas of "blackness." The two Chicago-based authors are less interested in the history (for that check out "Love and Theft") and more in the cultural aspects and how there are contemporary examples on film and television and in music, especially hip-hop. It's mostly insightful and always provocative, getting you to think about the images we see of blackness and how it can as much of a construct as gender or sexuality. It might also encourage you to see out Spike Lee' s minor flop, "Bamboozled"; one montage they call "the greatest survey of racially insensitive images ever assembled." A good read both for those interested in race and cultural studies.

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