Forward by Dr. Lemuel W. Watson
Can I get a Witness? Black males continue to be marginalized, stigmatized, and disenfranchised in America. Mass media allows us to see and witness events almost instantaneous. This volume brings together a collective who question how black males are represented in popular culture—American culture.
The authors in this volume give witness to how black masculinity is (re)presented in hip-hop, film and social media. Much of their writings are situated within the historical narratives of African Americans. Under American apartheid the black male image was nearly absent in popular culture. Except for the occasional butler, field hand, or driver, black males were not the main characters in television or film. The past four decades have yielded an increase in black male images in popular culture, although many of these roles are nihilistic to say the least. With the explosion of Hip Hop as a global music genre and the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States a shift is occurring; however, the black male continues to be viewed as a menace to society.
The heavily policed and illuminated image of the black male is the object of intrigue, fascination, and commodification. Drawing on deeply felt moral pains and the notion of celebrity, numerous black entertainers—namely rap artists and athletes—have rewritten the historic tropes of black masculinity from pusher, pimp, and hype man to protector and provider. This volume is designed for educators, policy-makers, and scholars, and media analysts to continue to question and interrogate those tropes in order to broaden our understanding of how black male images in popular culture contribute to the marginalization and disenfranchisement of black males in America.