Tag Archives: Bill Cosby

New Blackness And The Post-Soul Aesthetic: An Interview With Mark Anthony Neal

By Guest Contributor Lamont Lilly

Dr. Mark Anthony Neal is a professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University. He is the author of five books including Soul Babies (2002), New Black Man (2005) and the forthcoming Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities (2013). He is also co-editor of That’s the Joint! (2011) and is host of the weekly webcast Left of Black. After sitting-in on one of his classes, we paused for a few questions. Read along as Neal speaks quite insightfully on Spike Lee, Nas, Black feminism, and the n-word.

Lamont Lilly: Dr. Neal, in your book New Black Man, you describe how you were first tagged a “Black male feminist” on the BET Tonight Show. Being that you embrace this tag, can you share with us the meaning of a Black male feminist?

Mark Anthony Neal: (Laughing) Well, when I first began graduate school I was introduced to something called Feminist Theory, a body of work that attempted to intervene in both political discourse and everyday realities regarding the notions of equity between men and women. The idea that men inherited a certain amount of privilege from their maleness was a privilege even more complicated when factoring race into the equation. I was taking classes in the English Department and became curious to the question, “Where are all the Black women writing about this?” There I was, reading Barbara Christian and Barbara Smith, and on my own I began to seek out sisters like bell hooks.

I remember purchasing my first bell hooks reading on me and my wife’s first wedding anniversary. It was my first attempt at critically engaging that type of material. Hooks is one of the most important figures out there on studies of gender, sexuality, and race in the last 20 years. She’s written 15 or so books and none of them with footnotes. She was taking this high theoretical language and writing it in a way that was both applicable and accessible to everyday folks. It was under this context that I was introduced to not just feminism, but Black feminism.

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Quoted: Adios Barbie On Stereotypes And Body Image

Supporters of the “Black is Beautiful” campaign and several others similar to sought to redefine beauty in ways that both included and uplifted black women from what Princeton professor Imani Perry describes as the “generally degrading and unattractive, or hypersexual and less feminine” images of black women in society. The message was clear: as Bill Cosby famously put it, “It isn’t a matter of black is beautiful as much as it is white is not all that’s beautiful.” Could it be that black women ignore the dominant images of beauty and instead dance to their own tune, or have we simply flipped the coin and replaced one set of controlling images with another?

Being skinny was never a crime. Yet somewhere along the way, African American pop culture took over and a binary standard of beauty once more became dominant among black women. In a classic two-steps-forward-one-step-back scenario, the Washington Post announced what watching any rap music video will tell you: skinny is out, “thick is in,” and having some extra meat on your bones is a virtue (cue the parade of “fiercely real” women with curves, because “real” women obviously come with curves.)

One self-proclaimed “real” woman is the British TV and radio presenter Mica Paris, who, with her less-than-real hair, claims that black women are happier with their appearance. Paris wrote in the UK’s Daily Mail in 2012: “I don’t know any black women who aspire to be skeletal, and even if we did, nature decrees that we shouldn’t be. We’re made with breasts, bottoms and well-developed quads.” It doesn’t take a genius to know that aligning black women to the supposed naturalness of a fuller figure is not only incorrect but also horribly subjective.

- From “Binary Thinking About Body Image Hurts Us All,” by Vinjeru Mkandawire

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Rita Moreno

By Andrea Plaid

Rita Moreno. Via Palm Springs Life.

Rita Moreno was the first drag king I ever saw.

In her role at Otto, the screaming, sadistic film director, on the Electric Company, Moreno taught Generation Xers how to read and, more subtly, how over-the-top masculinity can be. (**TRIGGER WARNING**)

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Outracing History, Twice Over [Culturelicious]

By Guest Contributor Gabrial Canada

The Indianapolis 500 is the largest single day sporting event in the world, held in a venue – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – large enough to fit the Vatican and Churchill Downs at the same time. This unique facility is even more remarkable considering it was built in 1909 in an era before the World Cup or Super Bowl.

But though it can seat more than 400,000 people, the only diversity on the famed Speedway track was in the countries represented in the field. It would not be until 1991 that a black driver, Willy T. Ribbs, qualified for the world’s signature racing event.
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Bill Cosby Supports A ‘Muslim Cosby Show,’ But The Research Does Not

By Arturo R. García

Bill Cosby seems to be behind the idea of a “Muslim Cosby Show,” which is understandable – until we remember that he paid for research that contradicts his argument on its behalf.

According to The Root.com’s Jenée Desmond-Harris , Cosby called the site to defend the concept, brought up almost flippantly by CBS’ Katie Couric on her webseries this past December. As part of a panel discussion – which included Desmond-Harris’ colleague, Sheryl Huggins Salomon – Couric made this suggestion:

Maybe we need a Muslim version of The Cosby Show… I know that sounds crazy, I know that sounds crazy. But The Cosby Show did so much to change attitudes about African-Americans in this country, and I think sometimes people are afraid of what they don’t understand — like you, Mo… If they became part of the popular culture …

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