An often-heard criticism about the representations of Black people states that negative images damage the African American community and, in turn, severely impact the survival and life outcomes of African Americans. The criticism then follows that if there were simply more “positive” and “respectable” representations of African Americans and African American culture, then the political and economic plight of African Americans would improve. This line of reasoning is the politics of respectability that harkens back to W. E. B. Du Bois’s theories of a “Talented Tenth” that was subsequently exalted in dramatic narrative and visual art to produce an affective form of “racial uplift” that would lead and guide African American culture and politics. Certainly, with the work done by scholars such as Donald Bogle in Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of...

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