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In Soul Babies, Mark Anthony Neal explains the complexities and contradictions of black life and culture after the end of the Civil Rights era. He traces the emergence of what he calls a "post-soul aesthetic," a transformation of values that marked a profound change in African American thought and experience.
During the 1960s, the media offered symbolic attempts to satisfy demands for racial equality. Television shows like Julia and I Spy brought black characters into living rooms but failed to do justice to the figures they invented. (Neither black lead had a romantic relationship, for example.) In response, a new generation began to view the sixties and its accomplishments with a surprising irreverence.
Mark Anthony Neal draws upon his encyclopedic knowledge of black popular culture to examine the tension between a legacy of political activism and a more complex, ironic view of race and culture.
The Cosby Show, the Boondocks comic strip, an R. Kelly ballad, Eddie Murphy's comedy, and blaxploitation films are all part of his vivid synthesis of new cultural forms and energies.
Lively and provocative, Soul Babies offers a valuable new way of thinking about black popular culture and the legacy of the sixties.