Lockstep and Dance: Images of Black Men in Popular Culture

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Overview

An examination of those who resist, wield, and respond to stereotypes in literature, film, sports, and music

Lockstep and Dance: Images of Black Men in Popular Culture examines popular culture's reliance on long-standing stereotypes of black men as animalistic, hypersexual, dangerous criminals, whose bodies, dress, actions, attitudes, and language both repel and attract white audiences. Author Linda G. Tucker studies this trope in the images of well-known African American men in four cultural venues: contemporary literature, black-focused films, sports commentary, and rap music.

Through rigorous analysis, the book argues that American popular culture's representations of black men preserve racial hierarchies that imprison blacks both intellectually and physically. Of equal importance are the ways in which black men battle against, respond to, and become implicated in the production and circulation of these images.

Tucker cites examples ranging from Michael Jordan's underwear commercials and the popular Barbershop movies, to the career of rapper Tupac Shakur and John Edgar Wideman's memoir Brothers and Keepers. Lockstep and Dance tracks the continuity between historical images of African American men, the peculiar constitution of whites' anxieties about black men, and black men's tolerance of and resistance to the reproduction of such images. The legacy of these stereotypes is still apparent in contemporary advertising, film, music, and professional basketball. Lockstep and Dance argues persuasively that these cultural images reinforce the idea of black men as prisoners of American justice and of their own minds but also shows how black men struggle against this imprisonment.

Linda G. Tucker is an assistant professor of English at Southern Arkansas University. Her work has appeared in Henry Street, American Behavioral Scientist, and Transformations.

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Product Details

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     3
Writing Home: Whiteness, Blackness, and the Showdown in the Big House     18
The Legacy of Type: Minstrelsy, Lynching, and White Lore Cycles     44
Court Gestures: Cultural Gerrymandering and the Games That Black Men Play     78
The Last Blackface?: Forays into Film's Empty Space of Representation     99
"Holler If Ya Hear Me": Black Men, (Bad) Rap(s), and the Return of the Black Brute     127
Conclusion     160
Notes     166
Works Cited     175
Discography     184
Index     185
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