#BackChannel: Trump’s Racist Attacks, Remembering Toni Morrison, And Race & Representation In ‘Pose’

Aug 15, 2019

Last month, President Donald Trump called Baltimore a “rat and rodent-infested mess” and told four Democratic Congresswomen of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” These are just the latest examples of a repeated tactic: the president denigrates women and people of color who oppose him and his policies. What power do his words have and how do they affect the people and the cities he attacks? Popular culture experts Mark Anthony Neal and Natalie Bullock Brown take on that topic with host Frank Stasio in the latest installment of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context.

'Nothing surprises you anymore even as it enrages you.'- Neal on Trump's racist remarks

They also discuss the profound legacy of writer Toni Morrison who died last week at the age of 88. Morrison was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and her 11 novels, including “The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved,” fundamentally changed the landscape of American literature. 

'I was finally able to see myself in the things that I was reading about ... Toni Morrison opened up this world of issues that were germane to me.'- Bullock Brown

Brown and Neal also discuss how a group of foundations banded together to purchase an archive of four million historic photographs from Ebony and Jet magazines for $30 million to ensure the collection is accessible to the public. And they review two new television shows: the Netflix sitcom “Family Reunion,” created by a team of all-black writers starring Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Loretta Devine, and “Pose,” a new period drama series on FX that explores life inside New York City’s African American and Latino drag ballroom culture in the 1980s.

Natalie Bullock Brown is a filmmaker and teaching assistant professor at North Carolina State University, and Mark Anthony Neal is the James B. Duke professor and chair of the department of African and African American studies at Duke University in Durham.

Watch the trailers for "Pose" and "Family Reunion":