“A Dissertation to Provoke Thought and Influence Conversations” -DIamondKesawn
Dr. Fox is one of my friends. He is the kind of friend that when you talk to him you recognize the importance of speaking with purpose. Though he is not one to throw the “Dr” title around, he is still one who will analyze all aspects of the discussion with his PhD mindset. LoL! Recently, as we walked the beaches of Tybee Island, Dr. Fox made me aware of the dissertation he was working on. As he began to detail the scope of it, my mind began to wonder with so many questions. Why? How? When? What was? How did he? The aftermath? Yeah, all of that!
As I began to think about my approach to exploring a deep dive with Dr. Fox, I understood the importance and influence that the title alone represents for the base. By and of itself, I had to bring you the high-level introduction to a conversation that has forever changed my thinking.
Contemporarily, black narratives directly engage debates about racialized manhood in American society, but they also respond to earlier literary depictions of black manhood by writers such as Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin. The effects the aforementioned literary giants had on literature can still be felt today. With their novels, they each broke ground with their depiction of the black male. By signifying on their literary antecedents, contemporary writers are attempting the same by illustrating how black manhood has been defined and redefined within a broader black literary tradition. Addressing the constellation of issues plaguing black males and their notions of identity, it is the aim of this project to elucidate how contemporary black male writers attempt to define and redefine literary representations of black masculine identities in a contemporary moment. Employing Junot Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Daniel Black’s Perfect Peace, and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout this dissertation offers a more elastic paradigm for black masculinity and manhood through the perspective of their black male characters.
Fox, Kyle R. (Author); Black, Daniel (Degree supervisor); (Creator); (Editor); (Copyright claimant). Re-Constructing Black Manhood: An Exploration of Black Masculine Performance in Junot Diaz’s the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Daniel Black’s Perfect Peace, and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout. dissertation, n.d..
Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.
When the seventh child of the Peace family, named Perfect, turns eight, her mother, Emma Jean, tells her bewildered daughter, “You was born a boy. I made you a girl. But that ain’t what you was supposed to be. So from now on, you gon’ be a boy. It’ll be a little strange at first, but you’ll get used to it, and this’ll be over after while.”
From this point forward, his life becomes a bizarre kaleidoscope of events. Meanwhile, the Peace family is forced to question everything they thought they knew about gender, sexuality, unconditional love, and fulfillment.
A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality: the black Chinese restaurant.
Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens – on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles – the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: “I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since the ’68 quake.”
Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.
Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident – the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins – he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.