Touré Talks Racism, 'Oreos' and Skydiving in the Age of Obama
1 year ago
Loop 21's "Post-Blackness" Interview
Though best known to audiences for his groundbreaking work as a journalist covering pop culture for outlets like CNN and Rolling Stone (and for his singular name, à la Prince or Madonna), Touré will soon be known as one of America’s foremost chroniclers of race in the Obama era. His third book, “Who’s Afraid of Post Blackness” has generated critical acclaim in the New York Times. It’s also generated some controversy. In it he, explores what it means to be black in the era of the first black president, and whether or not political beliefs, or cultural behaviors should have any bearing on racial identity.
While promoting his new book Touré recently reminded audiences why he is one of the most provocative writers, thinkers and tweeters in media. After calling Tyler Perry one of the worst directors in Hollywood, he likened his films to “cinematic malt liquor” and McDonald’s burgers -- food that sells well but is bad for you. In response to Perry defenders who point out that he employs underemployed black actors, Touré noted that drug dealers provide jobs to those that need them too.
Our conversation with Touré on post-blackness, modern day racism, skydiving and “oreos” (not the cookies) is below.
Loop 21: Let's start with the title. When I told a couple of people I was interviewing you their reaction was "Yeah he has a new book on post-racial stuff," and I corrected them that the title actually references "post-blackness" not "post-racial." Can you explain the difference?
Touré: Post-racial is a concept I don't really understand. I think it means a world where people don't notice race or something which is obviously not the case so that would make it a word for something that doesn't exist. Post-Blackness is talking about modern Black identity and the complexity of it. It's a term that started in the art world to describe artists who were rooted in Blackness but not constrained by it. They were Black but didn't want identity concerns to rule them. They wanted the freedom to deal with Black subjects and traditions or to not deal with them. I feel like that identity freedom is in the real world now.
Loop 21: There have been books on black political leaders, black women, black artists and black entertainers. I'm not sure I can think of a single book comprised of such a broad cross section of African-Americans from diverse fields, from the artist Kara Walker, to the comedian Paul Mooney, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and so many others. How did you decide who would ultimately make the cut?