1. Isaac Julien and Kobena Mercer write that this sense of tension is “the tension be-
tween representation as a practice of depiction and representation as a practice of
delegation” (“Introduction: De Margin and de Centre,” 4).
2. As Valerie Smith writes, “Directors, studios, and their marketing experts collude
in shrinking the distance between referent and representation in films . . . , thereby
delimiting what counts, or sells, as black film” (“The Documentary Impulse in Con-
temporary African- American Film,” 58).
3. Harry Allen, “Telling Time: On Spike, Strike and the ‘Reality’ of Clockers,” Village
Voice, 3 October 1995, 84. See Kobena Mercer, “Black Art and the Burden of Repre-
sentation,” in Welcome to the Jungle, 233–58.
4. For more elaboration on the distinction of the adaptation from its source, see Mas-
sood, Black City Cinema; Harris, “Clockers: Adaptations in Black.”
5. After some experimentation, Malik Sayeed, the cinematographer, convinced Spike
Lee to use Kodak 5239 stock for Clockers. A special 35mm version of the stock had
to be created, as there was only a 16mm version used by news reporters before the
industrial switch to video, and by nasa and the U.S. Air Force for surveillance op-
erations. See “Between ‘Rock’ and a Hard Place,” American Cinematographer, Sep-
6. For a reading of the realism issues surrounding the reception of Clockers in contra-
distinction to Hoop Dreams and the rhetoric of “America,” see Cole and King, “The
New Politics of Urban Consumption.”
7. As Judith Butler notes, “To question a form of activity or a conceptual terrain is not
to banish or censor it; it is, for the duration, to suspend its ordinary play in order to
ask after its constitution” (“Competing Universalities,” 264).
8. Thanks to Dana Seitler for thinking through this line of inquiry.
9. Ralph Ellison, “Change the Joke and Slip the Yoke,” in Shadow and Act, 59.
10. Benston, Performing Blackness, 6. The vital import of the black arts movement and
those artists who engineered a shift in the hermeneutics of black art as an irremedi-