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Authentic Blackness – «Real» Blackness

Essays on the Meaning of Blackness in Literature and Culture


Martin Japtok and Jerry Rafiki Jenkins

Authentic Blackness – «Real» Blackness explores and explains the idea of authenticity, of «keeping it real,» as it relates to the multi-faceted meanings of blackness in the United States and the world. Including reflections on hip-hop, comedy, literature, intellectual history, and autobiography, the collection gives both a broad overview of and intervenes in the debates concerning blackness. A comprehensive introductory essay outlines the history of the idea of «authentic blackness,» while other chapters examine the contours of blackness in Canada and Jamaica; the relationship between middle-class status and «real» blackness; the link between «blackness» and hip-hop culture; Dave Chappelle’s comedy; and the work of James Baldwin, Countee Cullen, Clarence Major, and John Edgar Wideman as it comments on authenticity in relation to race.
Contents: Martin Japtok/Rafiki Jenkins: What Does It Mean to Be «Really» Black? A Selective History of Authentic Blackness – Dara N. Byrne/Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The «Defining» Problem of Black Authenticity in Canada: Real Slang and the Grammar of Cultural Hybridity – David M. Jones: Privileging the Popular at What Price? A Discussion of Joan Morgan, Hip Hop, Feminism, and Radical Politics – Antonio T. Tiongson Jr.: Claiming Hip Hop: Authenticity Debates, Filipino DJs, and Contemporary U.S. Racial Formations – Wendy Alexia Rountree: «Faking the Funk»: A Journey Towards Authentic Blackness – Gregory Stephens: Brown Boy Blues…inna Jamaica – Joy Viveros: Black Authenticity, Racial Drag, and the Case of Dave Chappelle – Jonathan Shandell: How Black Do You Want It? Countee Cullen and the Contest for Racial Authenticity on Page and Stage – Monika Gehlawat: Peculiar Irresolution: James Baldwin and Flânerie – Benjamin D. Carson: «Many forces at work»: Clarence Major’s Early Fiction and the Critique of Racial Economy – Ian Reilly: «Isn’t the whole point of writing to escape what people not me think of me»: The Failure of Language and the Search for Authenticity in Philadelphia Fire and God’s Gym.