How Black Women Transformed US Pop Culture
by Aria S. Halliday
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Pub Date 26 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 01 Jul 2022
Black women’s impact on consumption and culture from the 1960s to today
Buy Black examines the role American Black women play in Black consumption in the US and worldwide, with a focus on their pivotal role in packaging Black feminine identity since the 1960s. Through an exploration of the dolls, princesses, and rags-to-riches stories that represent Black girlhood and womanhood in everything from haircare to Nicki Minaj’s hip-hop, Aria S. Halliday spotlights how the products created by Black women have furthered Black women’s position as the moral compass and arbiter of Black racial progress.
Far-ranging and bold, Buy Black reveals what attitudes inform a contemporary Black sensibility based in representation and consumerism. It also traces the parameters of Black symbolic power, mapping the sites where intraracial ideals of blackness, womanhood, beauty, play, and sexuality meet and mix in consumer and popular culture.
Aria S. Halliday is an assistant professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and Program in African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky.
“Buy Black offers an important and well-argued consideration of the Black women cultural producers who, in an effort to subvert a misogynoiristic system, sometimes traffic in the very stereotypical practices they wish to upend. Halliday’s concept of ‘embodied objectification’ helps to make clear our own investments in consumer capitalism and prompts us to be more circumspect about our participation as a means to some ultimately unsatisfying end.”--Moya Bailey, author of Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance
"In focusing on Black women as culture-makers, the book provides a uniquely important view as to the ways that Black women's ingenuity and entrepreneurship have been largely overlooked in understanding these questions. I was consistently impressed with the author's ability to cast a wide net that moves across many topics, while keeping it all held together so that the shape and fit seem right."--Elizabeth Chin, author of My Life with Things: The Consumer Diaries
“Buy Black is a brilliant and meticulously researched exploration of how ideas about representing blackness have been essential to the story of American consumer industries and our popular culture. Aria Halliday has masterfully shown how Black women have, perhaps surprisingly to many readers, played a central role as cultural producers in American consumer industries of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, from their role developing dolls marketed to Black girls to manufacturing natural haircare products aimed at capturing a sense of racial authenticity and pride in Black female consumers. Attuned to the significance of how ideas about blackness reflect the white supremacist gaze of consumerism, Black women act as arbiters of a representational economy in which they attempt to define what constitutes Black authenticity and respectability for themselves. For Halliday, Black women are key innovators of industrial products and corporate marketing strategies that attempt to realize the promise of Black consumerism both within and against logics of racial capitalism. In uncovering how Black women have sought to transform corporate discourses of multiculturalism and diversity by inserting their own imaginations, capabilities and desires, Buy Black is an extraordinary feminist reading of the role of race, gender, and class in the American consumer product industry. Halliday’s book is essential reading for anyone interested in a Black feminist critical lens to the story of American late capitalism.--Mireille Miller-Young, author of A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 12 members
This isn't a light read, but it's a very well-researched and informative one. Geared more towards the academic market than your typical casual reader, this book is a well-written and in-depth study. We're seeing more representation of the Black and other marginalized communities in today's world than ever before, and while it's still a long way from being equal, I loved learning about the history leading up to where we are now, and the powerful Black women who helped get us here. I cannot recommend this enough.