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Gary Younge
Between rap and the Oval office

Since relatively few black men end up as gangsters, rappers or presidents, the notion that black western masculinity travels on a linear progression between Barack Obama and 50 Cent is deeply problematic. Between rap and the Oval office there is a world of popular black male figures inhabited by the likes of Chris Rock, Lewis Hamilton, Denzel Washington and Dave Chappelle – to name just a few.

Fortunately this short film soon moves off role modelling to the far more complex issue of what the simultaneous rise and popularity of these two men might mean in terms of race and class in America. I'm a big fan of Byron Hurt's work. And while there are too many people cavalierly talking on behalf of black men and communities for such a short piece, it is none the less a rich, original and thought-provoking treatment of a subject that has proved a magnet for shallow, shabby stereotypes.

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