Laughing to Keep Human: Disruptions of Racist Logic in African American Humor
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This project examines black humorists who challenge the Eurocentric, racist logics delimiting what it means to be human while demarcating blackness as inferior. While many scholars in black humor centralize humor as a means of resistance, a source of comic rage or redress, this project suggests that black humor offers a space to celebrate black humanity as it broadens representations of blackness. By turning to the staged parodies of Frederick Douglass in the 19th century, the stand-up routines of Jackie "Moms" Mabley and Richard Pryor in the 20th century, and the satire of novelist Paul Beatty, the project uses this unlikely assemblage to reveal a lineage of black humor that has effectively and cogently disrupted white supremacist logics while enacting a type of self-actualization of a fuller sense of humanity.