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Argentina and a Racism Hidden in Plain Sight  

Sergio Caggiano

As part of a push to homogenize culture, the modern Argentine nation-state (1880–1930) did away with race as an explicit criterion of social classification, laying the foundations for the myth of White Argentina. Cultural productions and the mainstream media have fed that myth for a century. In recent decades (since the mid-1980s and the 1990s), however, community media outlets have drawn attention to racist practices against specific social groups, particularly Indigenous peoples, regional immigrants, and Black people. While working to forge ties with ancestors from the 19th century or even earlier, these alternative media outlets tend to overlook the 20th century entirely, as if to confirm how successfully Argentina rendered non-White people invisible during the nation’s modern history. Besides targeting minority groups, racism in modern Argentina was also directed at a large swath of the working class that embodies what shall be referred to here as negritud popular (low-class Blackness). What is the relationship between discrimination against specific groups, their responses to this discrimination, and a broader racism directed against working-class and popular sectors? Working through denial and drawing on appearance, Argentinian racism operates ambiguously and intersects with other forms of discrimination. By removing the racial dimension from racism, race could no longer be politicized, but “White” Argentines could still refuse to acknowledge others’ existence, shaping a racism through denial that is epitomized in the commonly heard “in Argentina there are no Blacks/Indians left.” Appearance proves key in this process: Although it alludes to the color of one’s skin and phenotype, it also encompasses a number of visible traits, such as clothing and accessories, gestures, and face and hair care, that, when taken together, convey a person’s social class and value. From this perspective, racism in Argentina targets two types of subjects (ethnic, national, and diasporic subjects, on the one hand, and negritud popular on the other), although certain individuals may fall into both categories. The spaces for racism in Argentina—and for combating racism—are difficult to locate with any precision.

Article

A Fanonian Philosophy of Race  

Armond Towns

Frantz Fanon was one of the most important voices in decolonial and black liberation struggles of the mid-20th century. Writing about race and colonialism in Martinique, France, and Algeria, he articulated the importance of blackness to Western frameworks of the human. The black studies scholarship influenced by Fanon has continued in a similar vein, arguing that much of modern, Western thought either does not discuss race at all or considers race as an add-on to the larger discussion of Western subjectivity. Alternatively, Fanon and his interlocutors argue that race is the central function of the larger fields of Western philosophy and science, even if race is not mentioned at all. To make this claim, they largely point toward two tendencies in Western thought. First, Fanon and his interlocutors often examine the centrality of time and space in modern Western philosophy. Indeed, much of Western philosophy and science has implicitly and explicitly examined time as a linear trajectory that is largely monopolized by the Western European and North American white male subject; alternatively, space has been theorized as the static and nondynamic measure of the Western subject’s capacity to progress. Second, Fanon and his interlocutors also critically interrogate the related discussion of mutual recognition that is assumed in much of Western thought. As such, Western thinkers have often contended that, historically, the self recognizes itself in the other, and vice versa, and that self/other relationship is the basis for concepts of subjectivity. Yet, Fanon and his interlocutors have also pointed out that the lack of recognition of black people as human or as subjects has done little to foreclose whiteness as the position overrepresented as the human. Rather than recognition, white people have historically enacted racial violence against black bodies as a central mode through which to enter into humanity. As such, time and space and the lack of recognition as outlined by Fanon and his interlocutors suggest that nonwhite bodies have always provided a crisis for Western concepts of universality and subjecthood.

Article

Black Gay Men in Television Comedy  

Cameron Lynn Brown and Alfred L. Martin Jr.

Approaches to studying Black gay men within television typically center examinations of the textual features of particular representations. In general, scholars focus on Black gayness vis-à-vis historic stereotypes, often focusing on hegemonic femininity as an analytic framework for cataloguing stereotypes of Black gay characters. Across White-/multicultural-cast sitcoms, Black-cast sitcoms, and sketch comedy, one of the difficulties associated with engaging with television and its engagement with the intersections of Blackness and gayness is that communication scholars often engage with media texts rhetorically. In that rhetorical treatment, there is often an elision of not only the specificities of television form but also the contours of genre. Thus, when examining Black gayness in television, that examination will look different depending on whether Black gayness appears on a “prestige” drama on a premium cable network or streaming platform, a sitcom with a principally Black or White cast, or a sketch comedy series.

Article

Angela Y. Davis and Communication Studies  

Catherine R. Squires

Angela Yvonne Davis is an American-born, internationally acclaimed intellectual, activist, and icon. Davis’s groundbreaking work and generative theorizing synthesizes Marxist, feminist, critical race, and cultural studies to illuminate workings of power. Her many books, articles, and essays pose crucial questions that have inspired the work of generations of scholars, cultural workers, and activists. Spanning from the late 1960s to the early 21st century, her writings and speeches have provided rich understandings of history, justice, representation, identity, and resistance.

Article

African American Queer Cinema  

Victor Evans

African American queer cinema was born as a reaction to the AIDS/HIV epidemic as well as the blatant homophobia that existed within the Black community in the 1980s. It began with the pioneering works of queer directors Isaac Julien and Marlon Riggs and continued during the new queer cinema movement in the 1990s, particularly including the works of lesbian queer director Cheryl Dunye. However, these works were infinitesimal compared to the queer works featuring primarily White lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) protagonists during that time. That trend continues today as evidenced by looking at the highest-grossing LGBTQ films of all times: very few included any African American characters in significant roles. However, from the 1980s to the 2020s, there have been a few Black queer films that have penetrated the mainstream market and received critical acclaim, such as The Color Purple (Spielberg, 1982), Set It Off (Gary, 1996), and Moonlight (Jenkins, 2016), which won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Picture. The documentary film genre has been the most influential in exposing audiences to the experiences and voices within the African American queer communities. Since many of these films are not available for viewing at mainstream theaters, Black queer cinema is primarily accessed via various cable, video streaming, and on-demand services, like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO.

Article

Transfeminism(s)  

Daniel Coleman

Transfeminism(s) as both forms of social activism and intellectual inquiry generate ever-evolving frameworks and theoretical provocations that continue to ask critical questions about who the subjects of feminism are and what struggles are supported by purported feminist logics. Transfeminism has evolved to include genders that exist outside of the cisheterosexist binary and white supremacist logics of personhood to whom certain people can recur to garner their “subjectivity.” Transfeminism aims to account for other excluded classes of people and genders including transmen, trans nonbinary and genderqueer folks, and intersex people bringing back some of what the legal framework of intersectionality aimed to account for with the discrimination against Black women in workplace situations. It has also expanded its definitional logic and framework capacities such that it does not engage in merely additive logics of feminism that might mirror diversity and inclusion initiatives in institutions. Instead, its capaciousness, particularly in its activist iterations globally, has been mobilized to account for extrajudicial organizing around queer and trans bodies and medical needs, abolition, transicide, nonnormative sex practices for queer and trans folks such as liberated sex practices like asexuality, kink, and BDSM, queer and trans sex work, disability needs, immigrant and migrant demands, bodily autonomy, and other forms of material and bodily precarity produced by multiple forms of marginalization for queer and trans people whose needs do not exist at the center of mainstream heteronormative, homonormative, or transnormative politics. When fully accounted for in its materialist foundations in activism globally and in its historical genealogy in the aforementioned legacies in organic intellectuals and career academics, transfeminism has the pedagogical potential to participate in liberatory practices for those who most need them in institutional spaces through which we move, in community organizations, and the most intimate spaces of kinship formations toward other modes of living.

Article

Paul Gilroy and Communication Studies  

Armond Towns

Paul Gilroy is a central figure in British cultural studies. From There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack to Darker than Blue, his work has consistently interrogated what the political means for cultural studies, particularly with an eye toward making the world anew at some point in the near future. Indeed, Gilroy’s work suggests that the construct of the “political,” for cultural studies, has at least two interrelated meanings, both future-focused: (1) the political involves one form of investigation as a mode of entering into the conjunctural analysis; and (2) the political is also a nod toward black futurities as a mode of forever transforming said conjuncture. First, as noted by Stuart Hall, the cultural studies scholar has the responsibility to “necessarily abstract” from the conjuncture to begin an analysis. What this means is, whereas disciplinary scholarship focuses on the cultural, social, economic, or the political as set boundaries, the cultural studies scholar can begin with the political, in the first instance, and this may (or may not) lead to an investigation of the social, economic, or cultural elements of the conjuncture. This is an inherent element of the interdisciplinary approach of cultural studies. For Gilroy, nationalism and fascism are political constructs that he begins with, in the first instance. These political constructs, then, disproportionately lead to questions of racism and colonialism, which are disproportionately left out of the larger British cultural studies project. Gilroy’s career outlines a position that arguably has changed very little in contemporary British cultural studies: that white men are largely the gatekeepers of what constitutes cultural studies, many of whom completely ignore race in their theorizations of nationalism and fascism, even when it serves as an absent presence. Further, this liberal position of cultural studies requires intervention. Thus, second, and as noted by Lawrence Grossberg, the political for cultural studies also assumes that one’s work should do something in the world; it should seek to forever transform the conjuncture. In short, cultural studies is not just a theoretical exercise, but it is about telling a “better story” that can lead to transformation in the world. Indeed, Gilroy’s treatise on “racelessness,” often considered a nod toward colorblindness, is actually his attempt to speak the world anew. Put differently, Gilroy’s project has always been concerned with “routes” toward a new construct of humanism to disrupt Western engagements with the human. Despite its potential for white liberalism, then, Gilroy views cultural studies as uniquely positioned to speak the world anew, to challenge the solidity of the Western human and its connections to the Western nation. This, for Gilroy, requires rethinking the future, not through Karl Marx’s communist future, but Frantz Fanon’s decolonial future. In short, black futurities are everyone’s future.

Article

The ACT2 Program and Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in HIV and AIDS Clinical Trials: A Case Study in Health and Risk Messaging  

Marya Gwadz and Amanda S. Ritchie

It is well documented that African American/Black and Hispanic individuals are underrepresented in biomedical research in the United States (U.S.), and leaders in the field have called for the proportional representation of varied populations in biomedical studies as a matter of social justice, economics, and science. Yet achieving appropriate representation is particularly challenging for health conditions that are highly stigmatized such as HIV/AIDS. African American/Black, and Hispanic individuals, referred to here as “people of color,” are greatly overrepresented among the 1.2 million persons living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. Despite this, people of color are substantially underrepresented in AIDS clinical trials. AIDS clinical trials are research studies to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of promising new treatments for HIV and AIDS and for the complications of HIV/AIDS, among human volunteers. As such, AIDS clinical trials are critical to the development of new medications and treatment regimens. The underrepresentation of people of color in AIDS clinical trials has been criticized on a number of levels. Of primary concern, underrepresentation may limit the generalizability of research findings to the populations most affected by HIV/AIDS. This has led to serious concerns about the precision of estimates of clinical efficacy and adverse effects of many treatments for HIV/AIDS among these populations. The reasons for the underrepresentation of people of color are complex and multifaceted. First, people of color experience serious emotional and attitudinal barriers to AIDS clinical trials such as fear and distrust of medical research. These experiences of fear and distrust are grounded largely in the well-known history of abuse of individuals of color by medical research institutions, and are complicated by current experiences of exclusion and discrimination in health care settings and the larger society, often referred to as structural racism or structural violence. In addition, people of color experience barriers to AIDS clinical trials at the level of social networks, such as social norms that do not support engagement in medical research and preferences for alternative therapies. People of color living with HIV/AIDS experience a number of structural barriers to clinical trials, such as difficulty accessing and navigating the trials system, which is often unfamiliar and daunting. Further, most health care providers are not well positioned to help people of color overcome these serious barriers to AIDS clinical trials in the context of a short medical appointment, and therefore are less likely to refer them to trials compared to their White peers. Last, some studies suggest that the trials’ inclusion and exclusion criteria exclude a greater proportion of people of color than White participants. Social/behavioral interventions that directly address the historical and contextual factors underlying the underrepresentation of people of color in AIDS clinical trials, build motivation and capability to access trials, and offer repeated access to screening for trials, hold promise for eliminating this racial/ethnic disparity. Further, modifications to study inclusion criteria will be needed to increase the proportion of people of color who enroll in AIDS clinical trials.