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Jack Johnson, Paul Robeson and the Hyper-masculine African American Ubermensch

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Abstract:

We are in the midst of a growing menace. The black man is rapidly forging to the front ranks in athletics, especially in the field of fisticuffs. We are in the midst of a black rise against white supremacy… The New York Sun, 1895. Charles A. Dana on the ascendance of the black boxer Peter Jackson.

In 1895 Dana likened Black superiority in the boxing ring with the loss of white supremacy and foreshadows the rise of the ultimate representation of Black male power, Jack Johnson. In the early twentieth century, prize-winning Black boxer Jack Johnson changed perceptions of Black masculinity forever in the minds of Americans. Boxing was a combative and brutal sport, a site where men proved their manliness. Before Johnson, Whites dominated the sport and used boxing to prove their masculinity and their physical prowess. When Jack Johnson asserted his manliness by defeating white opponents and flaunting his middle-class status, he proved to white and Black America that Black men were a force to be reckoned with. Johnson challenged the discourse of white male superiority and he incited fear by displaying the vulnerability of the white male body. Johnson raised the hopes of the African American community and his very presence challenged the attempt to subjugate Black men by defying the discourse that defined the black male body as unmasculine and weak. Jack Johnson proved the theory that the Black male body symbolized a source of supreme power and virility. Johnson’s body epitomized the model for Black masculinity, much in the same way that African American male athletes in the twenty-first century represent the “exemplars for hegemonic masculinity” and doughtiness. This essay explores how Jack Johnson contested corrosive representations of his personage by utilizing the media to claim Black power and to reconfigure African American masculinity into the Hyper Masculine African American Ubermensch (superman), the ultimate representation of the New Negro. In the twentieth century the hyper masculine African American ubermensch would reinvent himself as educated, talented, physically attractive, and athletic, a new Black masculinity. The athlete, scholar, and performer Paul Robeson embodied this new image by coupling his intellect and his body to shape Black masculinity. This essay also will examines how Robeson reinvented and adopted the hyper masculine African American ubermensch.

Author's Keywords:

sports, masculinity, new negro,
Convention
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Association:
Name: 93rd Annual Convention
URL:
http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p274056_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Seniors, Paula Marie. "Jack Johnson, Paul Robeson and the Hyper-masculine African American Ubermensch" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 93rd Annual Convention, Sheraton Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, Oct 01, 2008 <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p274056_index.html>

APA Citation:

Seniors, P. , 2008-10-01 "Jack Johnson, Paul Robeson and the Hyper-masculine African American Ubermensch" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 93rd Annual Convention, Sheraton Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p274056_index.html

Publication Type: Individual Paper
Abstract: We are in the midst of a growing menace. The black man is rapidly forging to the front ranks in athletics, especially in the field of fisticuffs. We are in the midst of a black rise against white supremacy… The New York Sun, 1895. Charles A. Dana on the ascendance of the black boxer Peter Jackson.

In 1895 Dana likened Black superiority in the boxing ring with the loss of white supremacy and foreshadows the rise of the ultimate representation of Black male power, Jack Johnson. In the early twentieth century, prize-winning Black boxer Jack Johnson changed perceptions of Black masculinity forever in the minds of Americans. Boxing was a combative and brutal sport, a site where men proved their manliness. Before Johnson, Whites dominated the sport and used boxing to prove their masculinity and their physical prowess. When Jack Johnson asserted his manliness by defeating white opponents and flaunting his middle-class status, he proved to white and Black America that Black men were a force to be reckoned with. Johnson challenged the discourse of white male superiority and he incited fear by displaying the vulnerability of the white male body. Johnson raised the hopes of the African American community and his very presence challenged the attempt to subjugate Black men by defying the discourse that defined the black male body as unmasculine and weak. Jack Johnson proved the theory that the Black male body symbolized a source of supreme power and virility. Johnson’s body epitomized the model for Black masculinity, much in the same way that African American male athletes in the twenty-first century represent the “exemplars for hegemonic masculinity” and doughtiness. This essay explores how Jack Johnson contested corrosive representations of his personage by utilizing the media to claim Black power and to reconfigure African American masculinity into the Hyper Masculine African American Ubermensch (superman), the ultimate representation of the New Negro. In the twentieth century the hyper masculine African American ubermensch would reinvent himself as educated, talented, physically attractive, and athletic, a new Black masculinity. The athlete, scholar, and performer Paul Robeson embodied this new image by coupling his intellect and his body to shape Black masculinity. This essay also will examines how Robeson reinvented and adopted the hyper masculine African American ubermensch.


Similar Titles:
Examining African American Masculinity, Fatherhood and Media Depictions of African American Fathers & Families

To Be A Man: An Investigation of Masculinity Ideology and Men\'s Family Roles Among and Within African-American, Anglo-American, and Mexican-American Families

Masculinity and the American Dream in American Dreams: Jack Pryor as the Fatherly Scapegoat


 
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