Publisher’s Note: Those who know anything about black history and culture probably know that aesthetics has long been a central concern for black thinkers and activists. The Harlem Renaissance, the Negritude movement, the Black Arts Movement, and the discipline of Black British cultural studies all attest to the intimate connection between black politics and questions of style, beauty, expression, and art. And the participants in these and other movements have made art and offered analyses that wrestle with clearly philosophical issues. In A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics, I propose to identify and explore the most significant philosophical issues that emerge from the aesthetic dimensions of black life. The book will consist of eight short chapters, each of which will discuss a complex of related themes and phenomena. Every chapter will begin with one or two illustrative real-world examples, and then use the complexities of these opening cases to introduce the relevant issues. Many people in several fields have explored various bits of the terrain that I’ll cover. But none has surveyed the entire terrain in the name of aesthetics, and none has conducted this survey from an explicitly philosophical perspective. Setting up the project in this way means that its main conclusions will come in two forms. One kind of conclusion will emerge from the way I frame the issues. The two most important points here are that the field of aesthetics ought to cover more than the study of western fine art, and that the field of black aesthetics allows and requires the sort of comprehensive and philosophical analysis that I’ll offer. Another set of conclusions will emerge from my treatment of the specific issues in each chapter. In each case the aim will be to defend, albeit briefly, some position on the major issues raised in each chapter.
Comment: This text is an excellent introduction to Black American Aesthetics. Drawing on Critical Race Theory, Taylor locates the historical and philosophical background to black aesthetics in America. This text could be used as a contemporary text in a course on the tradition of aesthetics, or as an introductory text to a course on critical aesthetics. It could also be used in 'Critical Race Theory' courses for an aesthetics angle. Its chapters deal with issues of visibility, authenticity, embodiment and inter-racial exchanges.