Ronda Henry, “Barack Obama, Gender, and Pop Culture”

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Date(s) - 01/27/2015
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

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Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father (1994) used women’s bodies to establish a socially and culturally popular “brand” upon which he could build his political career.  Women function as signs of a non-threatening black masculine identity constructed to counter contemporary images of black masculinity associated with anger, aggressiveness, criminality, and the influence of the hip hop thug.  While 50 Cent, Kanye West, Jay Z and other hip-hop moguls can use many of the “negative” associations attached to black masculinity to generate power, Obama had to block or disallow their easy application to his own body to gain wide acceptance.

Dr. Ronda Henry is Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies and the Director of the Olaniyan Scholars Program.  She os the author of Searching for the New Black Man: Black Masculinity and Women’s Bodies, published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2013.  She writes on African American literature, gender, and race.