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What Makes a Man?

  • Aug 14, 2009
Hopkinson, Natalie and Natalie Y. Moore. "Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation", Cleis Press, 2006,

What Makes a Man?

Amos Lassen

Natalie Hopkinson and Natalie Moore use the name "Tyrone" to symbolize the black man as seen through the media lens and stereotype as well as through the eyes of the black woman. They look at black masculinity from different perspectives with insight so as not to find a consensus but a new way of looking. By doing so they tear down the myths about the black male and thereby bring about a sense of hope and provide a door for change to open. They look at issues rarely spoken about and show us a complex and vibrant masculinity that destroys some of the ideas already held. The black man has for too long been depicted as the archetype of a smooth-talking man with lots of swagger, "rhythm and flow". Here is a discussion of race that breaks new ground and shows that color is just that; color. We see here black men that many of us do not know or else we do know and do not want to acknowledge. The book is clearly a labor of love and we need to embrace the love with which it was written.

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Amos Lassen ()
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities.   I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … more
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In this series of 11 essays, journalists Hopkinson and Moore probe black male archetypes of the hip-hop generation, but the Howard University grads' superficial application of Jacques Derrida's "deconstruction theory" limits the impact of their effort. ("Tyrone," the everyman moniker in Erykah Badu's 1997 female anthem, is the authors' cultural catchall for these black men.) Written in cheeky, intellectual-yet-down vernacular, the strongest chapters deliver convention-bending twists on familiar types. They introduce Etan Thomas, an erudite basketball player with a taste for politics; hypermasculine showboat Kwame Kilpatrick, not pimping in a rap video but leaning back in Detroit's mayoral mansion; and a gay couple restoring their well-appointed Victorian home while the kids are away at camp. But too often, trendy cultural arguments and the minutiae of each subject's life eclipse deeper analysis. The essay on Kwame Kilpatrick is less about unveling meanings buried in media and public perceptions than evaluating his uneven mayoral record. Essays like "Babydaddy" and "Tyrones in Training" complicate boilerplate images of young, hip-hop–loving black men, but rely exclusively on the views of babymamas and teen girls. Hopkinson and Moore offer snap shots of alternative black masculinities, but don't really break new ground.(Dec.)
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ISBN-10: 1573442577
ISBN-13: 978-1573442572
Author: Natalie Hopkinson
Publisher: Cleis Press

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"What Makes a Man?"
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