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Black Body and The Lens

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Beatrice D'Alimonte

on 5 May 2013

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Transcript of Black Body and The Lens

Internalizing Myths Gender roles have been especially inscribed in Black masculinities where stereotypes and mythical representation have often gone unchallenged.
Author Bell Hooks recalls "in our southern black Baptist patriarchal home, being a boy meant learning to be tough, to mask one's feelings, to stand one's ground and fight" (Hooks, "Reconstructing Black Masculinity", 217)
Black males have often internalized myths and stereotypes, passively absorbing narrow representations of black masculinity and shaping themselves around them. Learned, not natural Black Masculinity in
American culture A Phallocentric Framework "With the emergence of fierce phallocentrism, a man was no longer a man because he provided care for his family, he was a man simply because he had a penis. Furthermore, his ability to use that penis in the arena of sexual conquest could bring him as much status as being a wage earner and provider. A sexually defined masculine ideal rooted in physical domination and sexual possession of women could be accessible to all men." Media Representations In popular culture, representations of black masculinity often mean: brute phallocentrism, woman-hating, a violent racist sexuality, heterosexual.
Public discourses of black masculinity assume not only heterosexuality, but also a coherent masculinity.
Watson photographs of Bobby Brown and Tupac Shakur exemplify the fetishism attached with representations of the black male body as "prejudicially seen".
There has been a spectacularization of black males through sport as well as through advertising in pop culture (Bud Weiser campaign, NBA athletes). White Fascination White men have often admired and envied notions of black masculinity and looked to the black culture for masculine identity.
The white imagination often fantasizes that black masculinity is the embodiment of the "outsider" and "rebel" as Hooks mentions "Within white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, rebel black masculinity has been idolized and punished, romanticized, yet vilified." (Hooks, 223)
The commodification of blackness makes phallocentric black masculinity marketable and profitable. Beatrice D'Alimonte "In traditional black communities when one tells a grown male to "be a man", one is urging him to aspire to a masculine identity rooted in the patriarchal ideal. Throughout black male history in the United States there have been black men who were not at all interested in the patriarchal ideal. In the black community of my childhood, there was no monolithic standard of black masculinity. Though the patriarchal ideal was the most esteemed version of manhood, it was not the only version". Stereotypical representations, hard to change Author Hooks argues that the thinking of most black men refuses to acknowledge the pain caused by a sexist thinking and patriarchal, phallocentric violence expressed in dominance over women, but also in destructive conflicts among black men.

Bell Hooks still argues "changing representation of black men must be a collective task... black people committed to renewed black liberation struggle, the decolonization of black minds, are fully aware that we must oppose male domination and work to eradicate sexism...we can break the life-threatening choke-hold patriarchal masculinity imposes on black men and create life-sustaining visions of a reconstructed black masculinity." (Hooks, 235) Breaking the stereotypes Black men hide behind a mask in attempting to self-affirm their identities. In fact, "the role of the mask might be so primary to black manhood that it obscures and covers over how black men have been able to articulate their selfhood both consciously and unconsciously to themselves and to the others. The masks that black men wear are many and varied and might be understood as congruent with the difficult history of the agency or lack thereof of black masculine self-fashioning that is autonomous and wholly self-interested " (Walcott, 75)
Black Dandyism. "it is the condition of the black subject to be splintered into multiple fragments of identity, to be identified from without, that becomes the basis for the formation and deformation of identity in the act of portraiture [...] overcoming objectification in the process of self-imaging” (Miller, 248)
Hank Willis Thomas. He critiques a history of branding the male bodies as property, which converges with today’s advertising campaigns that treat black males as products themselves. (Bell Hooks, "Reconstructing Male Masculinity", 222) (Hooks, "Reconstructing Male Masculinity", 218) Albert Watson, Tupac Shakur Hank Willis Thomas. Basketball and Chains
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