Research News

Black masculinity explored in new issue of AmeriQuests

The intricacies of being a black male in America are explored in the new issue of AmeriQuests, the interdisciplinary e-journal based at Vanderbilt University.

"The tough reality is that one in four black men dies violently each year, and one in three black males is either in jail, on probation, or on parole," note AmeriQuests guest editors Gilman W. Whiting and Thabiti Lewis in their introduction to the issue. They add that their examination of black masculinity comes during a continuing crisis "in an America that often spins black men as violent, hypersexualized, or non-men because of their race or sexuality, or both."

Whiting is an assistant professor of African American and Diaspora studies at Vanderbilt, and Lewis is assistant professor of English at Washington State University-Vancouver. Whiting, who has developed a course called "The Black Male," said the concept of a volume on black masculinity emerged from his life experiences as a black man, the pandemonium surrounding the O.J. Simpson saga, the national coverage of the first Million Man March and the release of boxer Mike Tyson from an Indiana prison. The journal, half written by Vanderbilt faculty and half by outside writers, includes the following:

• An in-depth interview by Lewis of Haki R. Madhubuti, author of Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous?: The African American Family in Transition.

• An essay by Vânia Penha-Lopes, assistant professor of sociology at Bloomfield College, on "Work, Love and the Family Involvement of African American Men."

• An essay by Tarik Smith, research associate at the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, on "The Psycho-educational Application of Hip-Hop Music to Bridge the Cultural-Competence Gap: Young Black Males and Juvenile Delinquency."

• An essay by Victor Anderson, professor of Christian ethics, African American studies and religious studies at Vanderbilt, about the public’s preoccupation with gay black men on the "down low."

• An essay by Tia L. Gafford, assistant professor of English, African American and women and gender studies at Mercer University, on "Split at the Root: The Reformation of the Mulatto Hero/Heroine."

• An essay by Anastasia C. Curwood, assistant professor of African American and Diaspora studies at Vanderbilt, about the attempt by black writer Jean Toomer to live a "raceless" life in rural Pennsylvania.

• An essay by Frank Dobson, director of The Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center at Vanderbilt, on actor-director Clint Eastwood’s attempt to become a "White Negro" in his films.

• An essay by Lewis on "The Modern Athlete, Hip-Hop and Popular Perceptions of Black Masculinity."

• A book review by Dana A. Williams, associate professor of African American literature at Howard University, on Olympia Vernon’s A Killing in This Town, a 2006 novel inspired in part by the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas, by three white men.

• A film review by Tamura A. Lomax on Barack & Curtis: Manhood, Power & Respect.

AmeriQuests was launched in 2004 at Vanderbilt to examine issues surrounding the American dream. It was founded by Robert Barsky, professor of French, comparative literature and English at Vanderbilt.

Media contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS