Danielle Fuentes MorganApr 8, 2021
Laughing to Keep from Dying
African American Satire in the Twenty-First Century
New Black Studies 2020
The election of Barack Obama propelled the idea of a post-racial United States, or that the country had moved beyond race as a defining feature of social difference and beyond racism as an everyday reality.
Dr. Danielle Fuentes Morgan examines the ways in which African American comedians and cultural producers took aim at such claims through the lens of satire. In her book, Laughing to Keep from Dying: African American Satire in the Twenty First Century (University of Illinois Press, 2020), Morgan demonstrates and argues for satire’s capacity for social justice through its expression of Black interiority and individuality that troubles simplistic renderings of Black people. Morgan examines texts such as Insecure, Get Out, and comedy by Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle, to show how African American satire fulfills or stymies possibilities for liberation. In expressing Black interiority, satire not only provokes revolutionary laughter but aids in African American psychic and physical survival. During the interview we discussed the main concepts in the book, a range of satirical texts, and Dr. Morgan’s approach to teaching and writing about African American satire. Laughing to Keep from Dying probes satire’s potential for liberation and survival embedded within Black laughter, giving new meaning to the term seriously funny.
Danielle Fuentes Morgan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Santa Clara University.
Reighan Gillam is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California.