Reshaping The Narrative

For this discussion board I have decided to put you into discussion groups. This means you will see fewer student responses. My hope is that it will make this exploration feel more like a small group discussion and less like a sprawling class discussion. Keep in mind you need to respond to two of your peers–but engaging in further discussion is encouraged.

I expect you to read and watch all of the material, but you only need to comment on selected material from the module. Select one of the sections (music, film, art) and discuss what you think the contemporary artists are trying to do and say in their reshaping of the slave narrative.

What did you learn in hearing or seeing a different version of the story?

And do you think the retellings are helpful or harmful to our understanding? And

Topics of Choice:

Ludacris – The Poison
Pay close attention and you will hear how Ludacris uses Leadbelly’s song–but also changes the meaning of it. What do you think Ludacris is saying in incorporating Leadbelly’s song?

2. Drunk History–Harriet Tubman
Just to be clear–I do not encourage the over-consumption of alcohol. The history here may have some questionable claims, but for the most part, this show maintains true stories from history…told like a story at a bar. For our purposes in this exploration, consider the reframing of Harriet Tubman. How does this narrative change the way you see Tubman?


3. Chappelle Show–Roots Outtakes
Dave Chappelle is a comedian who rose to fame through his critically acclaimed Chappelle Show, where he regularly tackled racism in often controversial ways. Some viewers were offended, others thought him brilliant. Even his latest Netflix special provoked critics who were offended by the way he approached cultural taboos. Whether or not you think he is funny, he puts a great deal of thought into his comedy. In other words, he is not going for mere shock. As you watch this clip, keep in mind how he is drawing attention to Roots as a movie, one where racial power on the movie set becomes inverted. In the world of Chappelle racism is real–but it is also ridiculous. Another one of his longer sketches that makes a similar point is titled Clayton Bigsby, the Worlds Only Black White Supremacist–which you can readily find on YouTube.


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