Aria S. HallidaySep 1, 2022
How Black Women Transformed US Pop Culture
University of Illinois Press 2022
In Buy Black: How Black Women Transformed US Pop Culture (University of Illinois Press, 2022), Aria Halliday negotiates the line between "sell out" and "for us, by us," exploring how Black women cultural producers' further Black women's historical position as the moral compass and arbiter of Black racial progress in the United States.
Black women cultural producers' aesthetic choices communicate that even though capitalist discourses dictate that anything is sellable in our society, there are some symbols of beauty, femininity, and sexuality that sell better than others because of how they occupy the set of already recognizable and, at times, relatable representations of blackness. While they compete in the consumer market for the attention and loyalty of Black consumer dollars, their capitulation to white corporate interests and audiences requires propagating historical tensions regarding Black consumer citizenship and multicultural inclusion. Each chapter contextualizes the role that Black women in the United States play in the global project of Black consumption, questioning which dolls, which princesses, which rags-to-riches narratives, and which characteristics represent the repertoire of Black girlhood. Through themes of self-making and objectification in dolls, princesses, and hip-hop, Buy Black maps the imagined space of "America" and the cultural attitudes that produced a twenty-first-century Black American sensibility based in representation and consumerism. Buy Black teaches all of us the parameters of Black symbolic power by mapping the confluence of intraracial ideals of blackness, womanhood, beauty, play, and sexuality in popular culture."
Rebekah Buchanan is a Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.