Tracing the cycles of call-and-response for generations of repeated, reworked and “reloaded” visual stereotypes of African Americans -- from early days in print, to their new life on the internet -- Thulani Davis discusses how to “read” the images of objects designed to “serve” the viewer. For example, what is the relationship between the creation of common kitchen items depicting black faces and black responses to such imagery? How are the responses, in turn, recycled into new blackface? Davis explores these topics where visual stereotypes -- used to promote colonization, immigration, products of all kinds and the politics of inequality -- have become a global phenomenon in her lecture "Blackface Imagery and Its Answers: stereotyping from the early civil rights era to the Obama era."
Thulani Davis is a poet and the author of several novels, plays and screenplays. As described on the poet’s website, Davis’ work in all genres “shares a passionate concern with history, justice, [and] African American life, and is marked by the journalist’s eye for the uncovered truth.” Her poetry collections include Playing the Changes (1985) and All the Renegade Ghosts Rise (1978). Raised in Virginia during the 1950s, Davis wrote a memoir, My Confederate Kinfolk: A Twenty-First Century Freedwoman Discovers Her Roots (2006), that explores her family’s racial history during the Civil War era. In addition to poetry publications, Davis’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Nation, Bomb Magazine, Quarterly Black Review, and Ms.
A Village Voice staff member for over a decade, Davis is a Buddhist minister and the first female recipient of a Grammy Award for liner notes. She is a graduate of Barnard College and has pursued graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and New York University, where she has taught in the Department of Dramatic Writing.
This event is part of UMBC’s series of Humanities Forums, and will be held in the campus’ new Performing Arts and Humanities Building Theatre, February 27, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Additionally, it joins the ongoing dialogue at the University surrounding the influence of media on the Civil Rights Movement. Admission to this forum is free. Find out more at UMBC’s arts and culture calendar.