This book is a product of years of thinking about the art of blackness. This is
not the Atom Egoyan or Japanese New Wave book I once thought I would
write. I blame many writers and artists for that, too many to list here. But I
especially feel that Randall Kenan’s Walking on Water: Black American Lives
at the Turn of the Twenty- First Century was significantly responsible.
more, I don’t think I would be a scholar if not for Dr. Linda G. Zatlin at
Morehouse College. My mentor, friend, and believer.
I am immensely grateful for my professors and advisors at New York Uni-
versity. My deep thanks to Ed Guerrero, Bob Stam, Sheril Antonio, Bill Si-
mon, Bob Sklar, Noa Steimatsky, Chris Straayer, Isaac Julian, Kobena Mercer,
and Manthia Diawara. Thanks as well to all my classmates in the Department
of Cinema Studies at New York University for the profound and critical gen-
erosity. Special thanks to Alessandra Raengo. Our conversations about black-
ness were essential.
Thanks to the many interlocutors who have engaged with this material
over the years. I have been blessed and inspired by their sharp readings, con-
versations, advice, information, and generous engagement with this work.
Their insights continue to make me a better scholar. I owe deep gratitude to
Cathy Davidson, Nicole Fleetwood, Erica Edwards, Paula Massood, Lokeilani
Kaimana, Gary Holcomb, Dana Seitler, Ayesha Hardison, Charles “Chip”
Linscott, Tess Takahashi, Racquel Gates, Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, Jason Sperb,
Kara Keeling, Mia Mask, Keith M. Harris, Leigh Raiford, Amy Ongiri, Huey
Copeland, Tavia Nyong’o, Richard Grusin, Courtney Baker, Fred Moten,
Sharon Holland, Allyson Nadia Field, Astrid Kaemmerling, Rebecca Wanzo,
José Muñoz, Nicholas Sammond, Samantha Sheppard, and Amy Herzog.
I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to share this work and