Toward an Aesthetic Language of Social Justice: A Theory of Black Arts

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This study critically examines Black aesthetic theory. The sociopolitical sensibilities of Black aesthetics may be viewed as a response or a critical “talking back” to the power structures in society that consciously perpetuate a dominant narrative of the beautiful or what it means to be beautiful. Ultimately it attempts to situate Black aesthetics in the context of education as a language through which to make meaning of the term social justice.


“While our world has rapidly become a more global community with increasing access across national, racial-ethnic and socio-economic lines, it is imperative that educational programs aim to empower individuals with a paradigm for cultural proficiency…this study redefines the relationship between curriculum development and social justice…are we engaging students in ways that affirm their humanity?”
-Dr. Bruce T. Grady, EdD.,
Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement,
Shaw University

“The author offers a framework for social justice education based on a critical analysis of Black aesthetics. This addresses a glaring limitation in the scholarship on social justice education…very rarely is Black aesthetics positioned within these discussions as a valuable and instructive way of being and experiencing the world.”
-Dr. Kamau Rashid,
Assistant Professor, Educational Foundations and Inquiry,
National-Louis University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr. Bruce T. Grady, EdD.
Chapter 1: Statement of the Problem
Conceptions of Social Justice
Curriculum Conception
Aesthetic Conception
Significance of the Study
Form, Theoretical Framework, and Methodology of the Study
Conceptual and Theoretical Framework
Sorting and Analysis of Emergent Themes
Methodological Parameters
Chapter 2: Defining Black Aesthetics
The Harlem Renaissance (1900-1940)
Realism, Naturalism, and Modernism (1940-1960)
The Critical Era or Black Arts Movement (1960-1979)
Black Aesthetics: The 1970s to the Present
Formal Analysis
Scenes of Poststructural Thought
Cultural Nationalism and Afrocentricity
Black Feminist Perspectives
Hip-Hop Philosophy and Rap Music
Chapter 3: Critical Moments and Limitations of Black Aesthetic Theory
Critique: Harlem Renaissance and Conceptual Conflicts
Critique : The Critical Era or Black Arts Movement
Critique: Black Aesthetics Since the 1970s: The 1980s, the 1990s, and Rap Music
The Nature of Black Aesthetics
Chapter 4: Black Aesthetic Language of Social Justice
Chapter 5: Black Aesthetics and Social Justice
Black Aesthetics Texts and Meaning for Social Justice in Education
Chapter 6: Philosophical Considerations in the Application of black Aesthetics in Education
Black Aesthetics and Recommendations
Chapter 7: Limits of This Study, Implications and Possibilities
Implications and Possibilities for Education
In-Service Teacher Training
Do Black Aesthetics Create the Psychical Space for Social Justice for All?

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