My presentation at the University of Oregon on April 26 will offer a brief take on the interrelated intellectual histories of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Aaron McGruder, Colson Whitehead, and Kevin Young. More importantly, I'll identify and illuminate a few of the childhood and teenage artistic and social interests of those four writers and explain how those interests were so vital to the works that they later produced.
For now, here's my overall claim: From the late 1970s through the late 1990s, exposure to an eclectic body of artistic source materials, including Star Wars, zombie movies, hip hop aesthetics (especially the Golden Age of Hip Hop), black studies, southern African American folk culture, and a multitude of father-son experiences served as indispensable special opportunities for Coates, McGruder, Whitehead, and Young that would, in retrospect, shape the distinguishing nature of their creativity, which in turn contributed to their extraordinary successes during the first decade of the 21st century.
[Related: Updated overall claim for presentation]
With so little scholarly work on the creative development and inspiration of black men (and perhaps African Americans in general), my project seeks to fill a void by describing aspects of four writers' early inspirations and interests.
• A Golden Age of Inspiration for Black Men Writers, 1977 - 1997