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Hidden Humanities Lecture: Houston A. Baker, Jr. “The Black Bottom Line”

November 16, 2016 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Houston A. Baker, Jr. was born in Louisville Kentucky. He is currently a Distinguished University Professor and professor of English and African American and diaspora studies at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of articles, books, and essays devoted to African American literary criticism and theory. His book Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era received an American Book Award in 2009.  His most recent publication is The Trouble With Post-Blackness (Columbia University Press, February 2015), which he co-edited with K. Merinda Simmons (University of Alabama).

His talk is titled “The Black Bottom Line: Reflections on Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, and White Male Violence in America.”

When a community watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida killed Trayvon Martin, an African American 17 year old, in 2014, Black Lives Matter (BLM) was born. BLM is a confederation with chapters in multiple states all dedicated to protesting the denigration and murder of black men, women, and children.  BLM offers a contemporary counter to an enduring American economic calculus that has considered black bodies in the single frame of the black bottom line. In commerce and business, a black bottom line signifies profit and clear capital gain. From the transatlantic trade to the present, church and state, labor and law, politics and prisons have regulated black bodies for profit and wealth. From the all white and male formulators of the Constitution to our country’s virtually all white and male professoriate and state court systems, violence against black bodies has been the norm. Only by acknowledging this history and contesting it through activism and in-depth study of authors such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Michelle Alexander, Ta –Nehisi Coates, Isabel Wilkerson, and others can America evolve into a country where black lives matter beyond the bottom line and in their own behalf.




November 16, 2016
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Gorgas Library 205
United States


Russ McCutcheon