Keepin’ it Real
by Malique Lee
produced by Johanna Makabi
This paper will analyze the work, Keepin it Real, to consider the extent of which American popular culture defines black identities in both France and the United States. Through an analysis of the phenomenon coined by W.E.B. Du Bois’ called “double consciousness.” First introduced in his book The Souls of Black Folk, the concept articulates the psychological challenge of reconciling an African heritage with a European upbringing and serves as the foundation towards understanding the paper. This paper considers the phenomenon within the contexts of popular culture’s lasting effects on the psyche of black men. Ultimately, the paper will address the following question: how does both popular culture and black popular culture limit black men in being their authentic selves?
The work Keepin’ it Real, is a four-channel video installation exploring multifaceted experiences of the contemporary black person. The piece examines closely W.E.B Du Bois’ concept on double consciousness to articulate the depictions of the characters and experiences seen throughout the installation. Using references from popular culture, the installation mixes music, performance, and cinema to critique the singular narratives existing within black popular culture. The piece thus offers counternarratives of blackness, queerness, and gender, utilizing eclectic references ranging from Greek mythology, vogue ballroom culture, surrealism, and satirical television.