We Are the Culture: Black Chicago's Influence on Everything

We Are the Culture: Black Chicago's Influence on Everything

by Arionne Nettles
We Are the Culture: Black Chicago's Influence on Everything

We Are the Culture: Black Chicago's Influence on Everything

by Arionne Nettles


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Journalist Arionne Nettles believes it is time Black Chicagoans receive the acclaim, the honor, and the acknowledgment of their contributions to American culture and recognition of where they truly came from.

During the Great Migration, more than a half-million Black Americans moved from the South to Chicago, and with them, they brought the blues, amplifying what would be one of the city’s greatest musical artforms. In 1958, the iconic Johnson Publishing Company, the voice of Black America, launched the Ebony Fashion Fair show, leading to the creation of the first makeup brand for Black skin. For three decades starting in the 1970s, households across the country were transported to a stage birthed in Chicago as they moved their hips in front of TV screens airing Soul Train.

Chicago is where Oprah Winfrey, a Black woman who did not have the “traditional look” TV managers pushed on talent, premiered her talk show, which went on to break every record possible and solidify her position as the “Queen of Daytime TV.” It’s where Hall of Famer Michael Jordan led the Bulls to six championships, including two three-peats, making the NBA a must-see attraction worldwide and wearing Jordans a style symbol to this day. And it’s home to Grammy winner Chance the Rapper, whose work honors the city’s cultural institutions, from the White Sox to modern art superstar Hebru Brantley.

It all happened right here, in Chicago, and for the past century, Black Chicago’s influence has permeated not just the city but really what we see today as modern-day pop culture throughout the country, and in some ways, the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781641608305
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/16/2024
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 205,055
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Arionne Nettles is a university lecturer, culture reporter, and audio aficionado. Her stories often look into Chicago history, culture, gun violence, policing, and race and class disparities, and her work has appeared in the New York Times Opinion, Chicago Reader, The Trace, Chicago PBS station WTTW, and NPR affiliate WBEZ. She is a lecturer and the director of audio journalism programming at Northwestern University's Medill School as well as host of the HBCU history podcast Bragging Rights and Is That True? A Kids Podcast About Facts.

Table of Contents

Part One: Black News Cannot Be Silenced
Essay: Homecoming
Chapter 1: Chicago’s First Black Paper
Chapter 2: The Making of the Man
Chapter 3: A Great Migration
Chapter 4: Race Riot of 1919
Chapter 5: Black Nuance, Black Perspective
Part Two: And With Them, They Brought the Blues
Essay: Cadillac Baby’s Show Lounge
Chapter 6: Mississippi Mud Music
Chapter 7: An Urban Chicago Style
Part three: You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet
Essay: On My Radio
Chapter 8: The Voice of Chicago
Chapter 9: Rise of the Black Radio Star
Part Four: And You Say Chi City
Essay: Dancing Down
Chapter 10: The Chicago Sound
Chapter 11: The Scene That House Built
Chapter 12: ‘It’s a Drill’
Part Five: Black Life in Print
Essay: Black Excellence Baby
Chapter 13: ‘If I Were a Negro’
Chapter 14: The JPC Launching Pad
Chapter 15: What’s Happening in Black America
Chapter 16: Celebration of Black Cuisine
Part Six: Black Luxury, Baby
Essay: First Taste of Beauty
Chapter 17: Making Fashion Fair for Ebony Skin
Chapter 18: The Limitless Art of Fashion
Part Seven: Hair That Makes a Statement
Essay: The Shine of a Crown
Chapter 19: From Respectability to Black and Proud
Chapter 20: At the Root of Change
Part Eight: Black Representation on the Big and Small Screens
Essay: Black and White and Technicolor
Chapter 21: Silence and the Silver Screen
Chapter 22: Talkies
Chapter 23: Singing Cowboys
Chapter 24: Dancing Afros, and a While Lotta Soul
Part Nine: The Oprah Effect
Essay: A Full Cup
Chapter 25: The Oprah Show
Chapter 26: A Shift to ‘Live Your Best Life’
Chapter 27: Oprah OWNs Media
Part Ten: Sports Cool
Essay: The Best. Ever. Anywhere
Chapter 28:Three-Peat After Three-Peat
Chapter 29: White Sox Hat 
Part Eleven: The Arts
Essay: Art for the People
Chapter 30: Being Black Is
Chapter 31: Chicago’s Own Literary Renaissance
Chapter 32: ‘House full of some Hebru Brantleys’
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