Creating the Black Beast
Constructions of Black Masculinity in South Africa and the US
This paper investigates how images have been used throughout the history of Western culture to construct violent and vacuous vision of black masculinity. In section one, I examine Victorian artists' renderings of the Anglo-Zulu war to highlight their associations of civilization with white masculinity and barbarity with black masculinity. I reference Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks in this section as a framework to show that these degrading images of Zulu warriors glorified white masculinity by depicting African men as inferior to European men. In section two, I bring these topics into contemporary relevance by referencing Patricia Hill-Collins’ Black Sexual Politics as a framework to examine American slave masters' creation of the image of the black buck which typified black men as wild beasts. These negative images of black slaves demonstrate that Western society has associated black masculinity with depravity even outside of colonial context.
Faculty Mentors: Jameliah Shorter-Bourhanou and Sunita Manian