Darkest America by Yuval Taylor
Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop

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A spring-like revolution for freedom, where human rights, justice, and the rule of law replace toppled labyrinth walls, will be a dream deferred to generations unborn.
-NY Times

Synopsis

An exploration and celebration of a controversial tradition that, contrary to popular opinion, is alive and active after more than 150 years.


Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen investigate the complex history of black minstrelsy, adopted in the mid-nineteenth century by African American performers who played the grinning blackface fool to entertain black and white audiences. We now consider minstrelsy an embarrassing relic, but once blacks and whites alike saw it as a black art form—and embraced it as such. And, as the authors reveal, black minstrelsy remains deeply relevant to popular black entertainment, particularly in the work of contemporary artists like Dave Chappelle, Flavor Flav, Spike Lee, and Lil Wayne. Darkest America explores the origins, heyday, and present-day manifestations of this tradition, exploding the myth that it was a form of entertainment that whites foisted on blacks, and shining a sure-to-be controversial light on how these incendiary performances can be not only demeaning but also, paradoxically, liberating.
 

About Yuval Taylor

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Yuval Taylor, senior editor at Chicago Review Press, is the coauthor of Faking It and the editor of I Was Born a Slave. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Jake Austen is the editor of Roctober magazine, He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
 
Published August 27, 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company. 353 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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NY Times

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Reviewed by Kevin Young on Nov 16 2012

A spring-like revolution for freedom, where human rights, justice, and the rule of law replace toppled labyrinth walls, will be a dream deferred to generations unborn.

Read Full Review of Darkest America: Black Minstr... | See more reviews from NY Times

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