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Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness edited by Rebecca Walker
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Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness edited by Rebecca Walker


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Black Cool explores the ineffable state and aesthetic of Black Cool. From the effortless reserve of Miles Davis in khakis on an early album cover, to the shock of resistance in black women's fashion from Angela Davis to Rihanna, to the cadence of poets as diverse as Staceyann Chin and Audre Lorde, Black Cool looks at the roots of Black Cool and attempts to name elements of the phenomena that have emerged to shape the global expectation of cool itself.

Buoyed by some of America's most innovative thinkers on the subject-graphic novelist Mat Johnson, Brown University Professor of African Studies Tricia Rose, critical thinking and cultural icon bell hooks, Macarthur winner Kara Walker, and many more-the book is at once a handbook, a map, a journey into the matrix of another cosmology. It's a literal periodic table of cool, wherein each writer names and defines their element of choice. Dream Hampton writes about Audacity. Helena Andrews about Reserve, Margo Jefferson on Eccentricity, Veronica Chambers on Genius, and so on. With a foreword by Henry Louis Gates that bridges historical African elements of cool with the path laid out for the future, Black Cool offers a provocative perspective on this powerful cultural legacy.

Soft Skull Press proudly offers this tenth-anniversary edition of visionary essays exploring the glory and power of Black Cool, curated by thought leader and bestselling author Rebecca Walker, with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Originally published in 2012, this collection of illuminating essays exploring the ineffable and protean aesthetics of Black Cool has been widely cited for its contribution to much of the contemporary discussion of the influence of Black Cool on culture, politics, and power around the world.

Curated by Rebecca Walker, and drawing on her lifelong study of the African roots of Black Cool and its expression within the African diaspora, this collection identifies ancestral elements often excluded from colloquial understandings of Black Cool: cultivated reserve, coded resistance, intentional audacity, transcendent intellectual and spiritual rigor, intentionally disruptive eccentricity, and more.

With essays by some of America’s most innovative Black thinkers, including visual artist Hank Willis Thomas, writer and filmmaker dream hampton, MacArthur-winning photographer Dawoud Bey, fashion legend Michaela angela Davis, and critical theorist and cultural icon bell hooks, Black Cool offers an excavation of the African roots of Cool and its hitherto undefined legacy in American culture and beyond.

This edition includes a new introduction from Rebecca Walker, a powerful meditation on the genesis, creation, completion, and subsequent impact of this landmark volume over the last decade.