When: Sat., Feb. 23, 2 p.m. 2013
There’s a slew of well-worn arguments about the “the N-word” — whether it’s OK for white people to say it, whether it’s OK for anybody to say it, whether it’s OK to quote if it’s in the lyrics to a song, whether Mark Twain should be censored, etc. — that seem to be revisited every time some dumdum decides to karaoke “Gold Digger.” Black culture is an infinitely important part of the American fabric, but for some reason its more complex facets are often viewed as too taboo or potentially offensive to warrant serious attention on a mass scale. That’s a shame. Chicago-based writers, editors and cultural critics Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen’s book Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy From Slavery to Hip-Hop brings a deeper conversation about race and heritage to light. From Good Times and Sanford & Son to Chappelle’s Show and the films of Tyler Perry, American pop culture is filled with ways for both white and black audiences to witness African-American comics depict stereotypes. What’s the potential harm in that? Darkest America refuses easy answers, and has been controversial as a result. Today, the authors will be appearing at Parnassus to speak about their book, and open the clandestine conversation to the public.