Manning the Race explores how African American men have been marketed, embodied, and imaged for the purposes of racial advancement during the early decades of the twentieth century. Marlon Ross provides an intellectual history of both famous and lesser-known men who have served—controversially—as models and foils for black masculine competence.
Ross examines a host of early twentieth-century cultural sites where black masculinity struggles against Jim Crow: the mobilization of the New Negro; the sexual politics of autobiography in the post-emancipation generation; the emergence of black male sociology; sexual rivalry and networking in biracial uplift institutions; Negro Renaissance arts patronage; and the sexual construction of the black urban folk novel. Focusing on the overlooked dynamics of symbolic fraternity, intimate friendship, and erotic bonding within and across gender, Manning the Race is the first book to integrate same-sexuality into the cultural history of black manhood. By approaching black manhood as a culturally contested arena, this important new work reveals the changing meanings and enactments of race, gender, nation, and sexuality in modern America.
Manning the Race opens new approaches to the study of black manhood in relation to U.S. culture. Where previous books tended to emphasize how individual black men’s identities have been reactively informed by the U.S. regime of race and sexuality, Manning the Race makes the case for understanding how black men themselves have been primary agents and subjects in formulating the identity and practices of black manhood.
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