What does it mean to have, or to love, a black body? Taking on the challenge of interpreting the black body's dramatic role in American culture are thirty black, white, and biracial contributors—award-winning actors, artists, writers, and comedians—including voices as varied as President Obama’s inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander, actor and bestselling author Hill Harper, political strategist Kimball Stroud, television producer Joel Lipman, former Saturday Night Live writer Anne Beatts, and singer-songwriter Jason Luckett. Ranging from deeply serious to playful, sometimes hilarious, musings, these essays explore myriad issues with wisdom and a deep sense of history. Meri Nana-Ama Danquah’s unprecedented collection illuminates the diversity of identities and individual experiences that define the black body in our culture.
This is by no means a theoretical text on the construction of the black body in the social imagination. Nevertheless, it is still a must read for anyone interested in the subject. All of the essays are deeply personal and from a wide range of authors, including some white who have taken a brave chance in exposing the ways their whiteness has informed how they read and interact with blackness. These were often surprising but also important to understanding that race issues in this country are not just a "black thang." BUT, the essay by Anne Beatts, "My Daughter, My Self," was such a piece of self-indulgent, racist mess that it nearly caused me to put the book down. She writes about her adoption of a black child who she refers to as a woman despite the fact that the child is only six years old. The little girl was abandoned by her birth parents and a number of foster parents before being adopted by this white author. As a result of the abandonment, she hits and acts out violently. The author actually suggests that this six year old is hitting her because she is a white woman and is taking out all her anti-white rage on her, or has already absorbed what she calls the rage of the black community (while as a brown-skinned woman I won't deny that many Americans of African descent harbor anger and resentment towards Americans of European descent for a wide variety of reasons, I scoff at the idea that it is a universal sentiment and that a little girl could have developed such racialized resentment in six short years on this planet. Besides, to use the term "black rage" is like using the term "black-on-black crime." Both are used to obscure the fact that the same things exist in the white community, as the essays in this book by the white writers demonstrate. Rage is rage, and crime is crime.). Beatts projects all of this—which is really a manifestation of her liberal guilt—onto a little girl! She also insists that had the little girl stayed with her black birth parents, she never would have become intelligent, hard working, articulate, creative, etc., etc. It's one hot mess of an essay and Anne Beatts clearly needs some therapy to deal with her internalized racism. Other than this, the book is a great read.
This collection of essays on the Black Body provides a pretty hip introduction to key themes in body/identity politics. What I like the most about this book is that most of the contributers speak in a language that is everyday, yet extremely creative. It is very substantial in matters that are covered: inter-racial dating, hair, gender norms, intellect, memory, colorism, la-di-dah. Many portions of this book moved me to tears. I fully encourage this type of publication. It is humane, real, and accessible.
interesting book with revelations regarding the black body and how the writers feel about it - physically and emotionally. Being a black woman myself, I experienced many of the situations that others had - hair issues, body shaming, inadequate and unequal education. My favorite story was the last one which made me think of my own mother. She too loved dressing up and often had everyone searching for the matching shoes to complete her outfit...wonderful memories.
This was a great and interesting book. It provides you with some Black history as both Black & White authors convey their experiences with either being Black or having relationships and connections to Black people and their culture.
Don't let the title fool you, its covers all areas of Blackness; hair, Black Blood, being Biracial, education just to name a few.
This is a powerful and insightful collection. I was particularly moved by the Fear and Loathing & The Joy in the Journey. I it was a privilege to get such an intimate window into the lives of these powerfully honest women. I strongly related to Paxton's description of yoga.