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What unites us, what makes us unique, and what makes us diverse? Can celebrating the African American Aesthetic as an integral part of the American Aesthetic, stating what is already reality, aid us in understanding each other better?

What Makes That Black opens up American Culture.

Available at Amazon (IngramSpark for booksellers) 

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What Makes That Black? The African American Aesthetic in American Expressive Culture 


Back Cover:

The African American Aesthetic is simultaneously a structure, a history, a function, a psychology, and a force of creation; it resides deeper than the “skin” of a particular dance, musical composition, performer, or literature. It is a type of intelligence, an energy signature that is ancient, historical, contemporary, and immediate. It has systemically changed the cultural fabric of the Americas and Europe.

What Makes That Black? The African American Aesthetic In American Expressive Culture shows us just that; it defines the Aesthetic in a way that does what it defines— it juxtaposes objective scholarly analysis with the personal and communal story of a researcher finding her voice, finding not only What Makes That Black, but her own Blackness… destroying internalized fear, inadequacy, and otherness as she sits at the feet of John Coltrane, Josephine Baker, Zora Neale Hurston, Alonzo King, Beyoncé, Kara Walker, Toni Morrison, Dr. J, Ring-Shout praise dancers, Hip-hop rappers, and many others.

What Makes That Black? The African American Aesthetic in American Expressive Culture boldly opens a new dialogue between cultures in this country. It adds depth and nuance to the conversation and offers a new pathway toward one another. For those directly or indirectly associated with American Africanist cultures, the book affirms confidence and dignity— contributing to psychological, personal, and civic empowerment.



October 2016 Book Available Here!

If you want to stroll into a store and pick up a copy at the same reduced rate you can now purchase it at Portland Art Museum and Oakland Museum of California

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What Makes That Black? The African American Aesthetic

by Luana

What Makes That Black? The African-American Aesthetic looks at the roots of the African American Aesthetic as a form of cultural intelligence—a way of thinking—that serves not only African Americans but also anyone using it.

We all can name some of the Africanist aesthetic-structures that fuel African American and American art … Syncopation, Improvisation, Call and Response, Cool, Polyrhythm, or Innovation as an ambition …  But there are many, many more.

What Makes That Black? The African-American Aesthetic identifies and defines seventy-four elements of the aesthetic through text and illustration. Using the magnificent camerawork of R.J. Muna, Sharen Bradford, Jae Man Joo, Rachel Neville, James Barry Knox, and more– as they point their cameras at Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and jazz artists such as Cécile McLorin Salvant and Wynton Marsalis– a specific artistic consciousness or sensibility visually unfolds. Luana even joins the camera crew as she shoots Oakland Street Graffiti. Media links in the back of the book provide further illustration of the aesthetic.

Inside of Book …

Art can be created for the sole purpose of self-expression of the artist … no viewer need apply. But that is not true of the African-American Aesthetic … it is limbic … calling for an intelligent community participatory-response. The ambition of What Makes That Black? The African-American Aesthetic is to increase the cultural IQ when we regard all expressive endeavors. The book is a ladder, an almanac, a handbook, a periodic table, and a contribution to the dialog on Black American Aesthetics. Consequentially it’s a dialog on American Aesthetics.

Available in two formats:

e-Book $8.99  ISBN: 978-1-365-38032-7 (e). 118 pages.

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Print $50.00 ISBN: 978-1-4834-5479-5 (sc). 118 pages. Ships in 3-5 business days.  (20% discount when ordered from Lulu Press $40.00)

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The soft-cover print book and e-book are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other booksellers. 20% discount on the print book when ordered directly from Lulu Press!