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Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness Paperback – February 7, 2012

12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Black Cool

"Walker and her band of scribes are in top form, giving a rich, varied picture of Black cool style." —Publishers Weekly


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press; Original edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593764170
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593764173
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #661,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By UrbanOracle on February 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Black Cool was a teaser-trailer to me of why education and sacred dialogue about topics concerning the evolution of African American people is invaluable. Each voice left me wanting to seek their work, the work of artists, authors, healers and educators I felt something deeply in common with. This collection of essays touched on topics such as bravado, defiance and healing that, at one time, have provoked distance in intimacy rather than bridged trust and tolerance. They were examined, confronted and left agape to be admired, mourned and sympathized with.

This easy read invokes memories of black values and the varying impressions collectively understood which influenced expression, fashion, education and self forgiveness over several decades. The power in this book is it's authors have in common current interests in the development of the self AND the community as well as being active contributors to what is perpetuating positive social change by sharing their stories; this is a movement. Storytelling is my all time favorite way to destroy cliche's that cripple the African American community. Dialogue about personal experiences, shared for the sake of the message, blow the whistle on urban myths that target style, choices and flavor of men, women and children in the midst of growth and claims our journey and history as our own. I hope for the continued honesty about people that have been an enemy to their own, this was refreshing and gave me a chance to just hear the story, be with the authors while relieving my own social angst about people over-protecting those who contribute to our destruction, no matter their creed or culture.
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Format: Paperback
The group of essays that Rebecca Walker has compiled in Black Cool creates a tremendously useful resource for the study of what Blackness is for diasporic American natives and disaporic immigrants to America. Another aspect of this book that makes it valuable as a cultural studies tool is that it provides a wonderful space for contemporarily diverse gendered voices.
I drank this book in finding sustenance in it for several reasons. Each piece stands strongly by itself, uniquely demonstrating each author’s view of Blackness. Taken in concert, this group of writings demonstrates as Henry Louis Gates, Jr. states in the forward “a compelling and sustained conversation about the multiple meanings of blackness in the United States today” (X). One Thousand Streams of Blackness gains strength on this theme by “sustaining the conversation” in a varied and meaningful way. Certainly, I wonder if part of the pull of this book for me is the desire to be near that which is Black Cool, as so many other white folks have done before me in envy and in misunderstanding. But, the masterful way in which each author articulates the theme of Black Cool by celebrating both its humanity and resiliency is what truly bowled me over.
In her piece entitled “The Break” Valorie Thomas takes several components of Blackness in an American context and laces them together with a musical metaphor that incorporates everything from funk and feminism to DuBoisian theory to define Black Cool. By defining the “cultural and personal vertigo” that comes with the experience of being a Black American, Thomas teaches us to study and appreciate the awe-inspiring display of skill that exists in the break.
Michaela angela Davis defines Black Cool as black style.
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It's hard for me to write a review of Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness. It's easy to be critical of texts, but when you love something, it's hard to describe or theorize. You just love it. I loved Dayo Olopade's criticism of white, purchasable hipsterdom. I loved bell hooks' attempt to reclaim coolness for women. And I loved Staceyann Chin's description of in-your-face lesbianism. And when I list some of the things I enjoyed about Black Cool, it's pretty evident that those were my best and easiest points of entry as a white, queer woman. That's also something to keep in mind when examining my interpretation of Walker's collection of essays on Black Cool.

Although it may seem obvious to say, even the format of Walker's book is a reflection of what it says about Black Cool. It consists of sixteen vastly different essays that examine blackness, coolness, and where the two converge. But despite these differences that reflect the multiplicity of black experiences (blacknesses), the essays share many of the same themes. Through the range of descriptions of blackness in America, Jamaica, Ghana, and throughout the Diaspora conversations of trauma, coping mechanisms, boundaries of blackness, and individuality (both positive and negative) are repeated. The essays and stories reflect the constant battle of being black in America, and the ways in which America is not even close to being a post-race society.

Central to the book is a theme of trauma. Whether the essay is focused on the history of blackness in America and the legacy of that history, or an individual rape story, or black male incarceration, trauma remains constant.
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