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About Mark Anthony Neal
Neal hosts the weekly webcast, 'Left of Black' in collaboration with the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University (Duke on Demand). A frequent commentator for National Public Radio, Neal is a weekly columnist for theLoop21.com and also contributes to several on-line media outlets, including The Root.com, theGrio.com, SeeingBlack.com and Britain's New Black Magazine. Neal maintains a blog at NewBlackMan (http://newblackman.blogspot.com/). You can follow him on Twitter @NewBlackMan.
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Ten years ago, Mark Anthony Neal’s New Black Man put forth a revolutionary model of Black masculinity for the twenty-first century—one that moved beyond patriarchy to embrace feminism and combat homophobia. Now, Neal’s book is more vital than ever, urging us to imagine a New Black Man whose strength resides in family, community, and diversity. Part memoir, part manifesto, this book celebrates the Black man of our times in all his vibrancy and virility.
The tenth anniversary edition of this classic text includes a new foreword by Joan Morgan and a new introduction and postscript from Neal, which bring the issues in the book up to the present day.
Mark Anthony Neal’s Looking for Leroy is an engaging and provocative analysis of the complex ways in which black masculinity has been read and misread through contemporary American popular culture. Neal argues that black men and boys are bound, in profound ways, to and by their legibility. The most “legible” black male bodies are often rendered as criminal, bodies in need of policing and containment. Ironically, Neal argues, this sort of legibility brings welcome relief to white America, providing easily identifiable images of black men in an era defined by shifts in racial, sexual, and gendered identities.
Neal highlights the radical potential of rendering legible black male bodies—those bodies that are all too real for us—as illegible, while simultaneously rendering illegible black male bodies—those versions of black masculinity that we can’t believe are real—as legible. In examining figures such as hip-hop entrepreneur and artist Jay-Z, R&B Svengali R. Kelly, the late vocalist Luther Vandross, and characters from the hit HBO series The Wire, among others, Neal demonstrates how distinct representations of black masculinity can break the links in the public imagination that create antagonism toward black men. Looking for Leroy features close readings of contemporary black masculinity and popular culture, highlighting both the complexity and accessibility of black men and boys through visual and sonic cues within American culture, media, and public policy. By rendering legible the illegible, Neal maps the range of identifications and anxieties that have marked the performance and reception of post-Civil Rights era African American masculinity.