‘‘Blackness’’ and Authenticity:
What’s Performance Got to Do with It?
Have you ever noticed how white always seems to
attract stains?—Crest toothpaste commercial
Color, for anyone who uses it,
or is used by it, is a most complex, calculated
and dangerous phenomenon.
—James Baldwin
From the natural to the jheri curls to shaved
heads; from break dancing to rock; from platform shoes
to Reeboks; from large church congregations to empty
Sunday schools; from Jack and Jill to the Bloods and the
Crips; from Shirley Chisholm and Jesse Jackson to Al
Sharpton and Colin Powell; from Motown to Def Jam
Records; from Good Times to the Jeffersons to In Living
Color; from Soul Train to Yo! mtv Raps—these
outward manifestations have become signs of
the ways African Americans perceive
their culture, themselves.
—Randall Kenan
how do i get in touch with my blackness?
‘‘blackness where are you?’’
—Marvin K. White, ‘‘for colored boys’’
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