I am co-teaching a course entitled Black Power Fantasies with Stanford Carpenter an anthropologist who was recently hired at the Art Institute of Chicago. What we are interested in mining are the politics of black cultural production. To the degree we can think of an art as “black” what does it mean to talk about the politics of black art? How have black artists sought to garner control of the means of production and distribution of their art? Why do so many people look to the terrain of popular culture for political content?

Coming up with the syllabus has been a lot harder than normal, because this class is inter-disciplinary using texts from political science, history, anthropology, and cultural studies. But we’re also adding in some music, some movies, and some video, as well as graphic novels, for good measure.  I usually slaughter my students with reading, but I’m trying to move to the other side to let the readings breathe.
Given the subject matter we really are talking about an embarassment of riches. We won’t have to fiend to find literature.

I am pretty sure we’re going to be developing a podcast of some sorts out of this. (For real!)
This is a rough version that only contains my suggestions.  When we finalize the product I’ll send it out.

What is Racism? (The Purpose of this section is to introduce the concepts of race and racism to the students, to lay out the general framework in which calls for black power are generated)
Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States, Chaps. 4, 5.
Holt, Thomas. The Problem of Race in the 21st Century
Mills, Charles. The Racial Contract

Racism and the Mass Media (How does racism rely upon and use popular culture to do its “work?”)
Entman, Robert, and Andrew Rojecki. The Black Image in the White Mind. Chaps. 2,3 (maybe 4)
Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination
Gilens, Martin. Why Americans Hate Welfare. Chaps. 5, 6.

Dominant Black Responses to Racism (How did black people respond to racism? Precursors to Black Power)
Washington, Booker T. “The Atlanta Compromise” (speech should be online)
Dubois, W. E. B. “Of Booker T. Washington and Others” (chapter in The Souls of Black Foik)
Garvey, Marcus “Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World.” Pp. 23-31 in Van Deburg, William (ed.) Modern Black Nationalism
Mitchell, Michele. Righteous Propagation, chap. 6

Black Power (Under what conditions did Black Power emerge? What were its political manifestations)
Carmichael, Stokely and Charles Hamilton. Black Power
Selections from Eyes on the Prize

Cultural Manifestations of Black Power (what were some of the ways that black artists used black power to think about their art, and to also develop new institutions and modes of cultural creation?)
Smethurst, James, The Black Arts Movement, chap. 2
Cobb, Jelani. The Essential Harold Cruse, chap. 14
Green, Adam. Selling the Race (chap. 2)
Smith, Suzanne. Dancing in the Street (chap. 4)
Chang, Jeff. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (chaps. 1-3)
Sicko, Dan. Techno Rebels (chaps. 2, 3)
Selections from Ali Rap, The Great White Hope

Responses to Black Power (What were the dominant responses to black power by whites?)
Aberbach, Joel and Walker, Jack L. 1970. “The Meanings of Black Power: A Comparison of White and Black Interpretations of a Political Slogan.” American Political Science Review 64 (June):367-88.
Churchill, Ward. The COINTELPRO Papers, chap. 5
Here should go an article about the “co-optation” of Black Power by mainstream business interests.