Visual Constructions of a Color-Blind Society: Post-Black Art and Color-Blind Racism Open Access

Young, Olivia Kathleen (2010)

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This thesis investigates whether the concept of post-black art can be read as a movement towards a progressive racial consciousness and a broader black identity, or if it aligns with the oppressive movement of color-blind orthodoxy to make race silent and invisible. Furthermore, it explores how the notion of post-black art can be examined as a reflection of larger American racial politics and how those politics are embedded in systems of oppression.

I will begin by defining blackness in terms of visibility, and argue that black aesthetics have evolved as a mechanism for challenging black invisibility; black aesthetics combine philosophies of black ontology with visual representation of the African America diaspora in order to combat singular or simplistic renderings of black life.

The second section moves into a discussion of black aesthetic movements, focusing specifically on the two twentieth-century black art renaissances, The New Negro Movements of the 1920s and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 70s. This section carefully highlights the recurring question surrounding black identity, which emerge at the onset of black aesthetic movements. This section will act as a preamble for the analysis of the ideological movements behind post-black art.

The third section will focus predominantly on post-black art and give a comprehensive breakdown of the term, the responses, praises and backlashes of the new label.

And finally, the last section of my thesis will draw connections between the art realm and a larger socio-political order, highlighting the colorblind orthodoxy that developed and dictated the post-civil rights era. More importantly, however, this section will attest that post-black art, through supporting the principles of color-blind ideology and race neutral thinking, aids in the cultivation of white dominance and black subordination.

I will argue that the conceptualization of the term 'post-black art' is a direct derivative of the national vogue of colorblind thinking, a philosophy that is rooted in the defense of whiteness and the overarching maintenance of white supremacy. The new era of post-black creation adheres to colorblind convention and endorses a doctrine that in concept preserves and perpetuates black oppression.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Research Questions...3
Paper Outline...4

Black Invisibility...7
Black Aesthetic Movements...12

The New Negro Movement...12
The Black Arts Movement...19

Post-Black Art...22

Color-Blind Racism and Post-Black Art...30

Racism as a Tactic of Oppression...31
Color-Blind Racism and White Supremacy...32
Minimizing Race in Post-Black Art...37
Liberalism to Enforce Racism...45



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