Yuval Taylor and Jake Austeninvestigate the complex history of black minstrelsy, adopted in themid-nineteenth century by African American performers who played the grinningblackface fool to entertain black and white audiences. We now considerminstrelsy an embarrassing relic, but once blacks and whites alike saw it as ablack art form—and embraced it as such. And, as the authors reveal, blackminstrelsy remains deeply relevant to popular black entertainment, particularlyin the work of contemporary artists like Dave Chappelle, Flavor Flav, SpikeLee, and Lil Wayne. Darkest America explores the origins, heyday, and present-day manifestations of thistradition, exploding the myth that it was a form of entertainment that whitesfoisted on blacks, and shining a sure-to-be controversial light on how theseincendiary performances can be not only demeaning but also, paradoxically,liberating.
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