Introduction: ‘‘Blackness’’ and Authenticity
What’s Performance Got to Do with It?
Richard Schechner, ‘‘What Is Performance Studies Anyway?’’ in The Ends
of Performance, ed. Peggy Phelan and Jill Lane (New York: New York Uni-
versity Press, 1998), 357.
See Regina Bendix, In Search of Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore
Studies (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1997), 7.
With few exceptions, throughout this book I use the term ‘‘black’’ as
opposed to ‘‘African American’’ and ‘‘white’’ as opposed to ‘‘European
American’’ to suggest a more equivocal relationship between bodies and
racial and cultural identity and to mark these terms as signs constantly
under contestation. In those places in the text where I deploy the term
‘‘African American,’’ it is done so to designate a specific function, such
as in the name of courses I have taught.
Bendix, In Search of Authenticity, 9.
Henry Louis Gates Jr., ‘‘ ‘Authenticity,’ or the Lesson of Little Tree,’’ New
York Times Book Review, November 24, 1991, 26.
For an extended discussion on the exclusion of black gays and lesbi-
ans from the circle of blacks who are authorized to speak on the black
community’s behalf, see Dwight A. McBride, ‘‘Can the Queen Speak?
Racial Essentialism, Sexuality, and the Problem of Authority,’’ Callaloo
22 (1998): 432–60.
Wahneema Lubiano, ‘‘ ‘But Compared to What?’ Reading Realism, Rep-
resentation, and Essentialism in School Daze, Do the Right Thing, and
Spike Lee Discourse,’’ in Representing Black Men, ed. Marcellus Blount
and George P. Cunningham (New York: Routledge, 1996), 189.
See Eric Lott, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Work-