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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Presentation Details

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All I Really Want, Sweet Love, is to be Happy in my Brown Skin: Black Female Sexuality in Contemporary Rhythm and Blues

Nghana tamu Lewis.

All I Really Want examines Mary J. Blige, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, and India Arie's strategic use of corporate and performance spaces as sites for critically (re)constructing black female subjectivity and centering the sexual politics of hip-hop culture. In response to the mainstreaming of black expressive culture especially among teenaged white suburbanites and the habit among scholars to render the notion that a distinctive black consciousness can be represented and read in contemporary black music suspect, these three lyricists offer experimental methods for moving contemporary notions of black consciousness in the direction that recognize the race-specific aspects of black American women's experiences while reconciling them with the global politics increasingly informing critical approaches to cultural studies. My particular focus on Ndegeocello's performances and lyrical riffs, work within the American prison system, and activism in GLAAD points up the crisis black culture as a whole will continue to endure if, coupled with its mainstreaming among people of diverse ages, ethnicities, and nationalities, it persists in marginalizing black gay and lesbian youth.


Nghana tamu Lewis  (United States)
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Louisiana State University

Currently working on second book project, On the Modern/Postmodern Divide: Black Culture and Black Consciousness in Transition

  • Black Women Singers
  • Rhythm and Blues
  • Postmodern/Modern Theory
Person as Subject
  • MShell Ndegeocello India.Arie Mary J. Blige

(30 min Conference Paper, English)