tyler perry

Tyler Perry’s Museum of Blackness

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Tyler Perry’s Madea franchise is part of a collective of black, fat drag, comedy-dramas. These films bear six distinguishing features: 1) they are considered “successful” because they gross more than their production costs; 2) they are accompanied by an R&B/gospel soundtrack, and 3) include casts of popular black actors and actresses who are well known within African American communities. Also characteristic of these films are 4) the use of multiple and arguably watered-down Protestant messages about the importance of faith in God, couched in comedic performance, to appeal to mass audiences. An additional feature is that 5) the black church is the space where a significant turning point and/or the film’s resolution occur. Most notably, these films are characterized by 6) the donning of intricately designed fat suits by black men (Tyler Perry, Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy) to parody black women.

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To Be Atheist, Feminist, and Black

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Sadly, there is still a fair amount of ignorance and bigotry toward black non-believers in African American communities due to the stereotype that atheists are immoral, rudderless, and not authentically black. This belief is especially insidious for black women. Mainstream African American culture places a high premium on black female caregiving, piety, and sacrifice. The patriarchal traditions of the Black Church, with their emphasis on charismatic black male leadership and biblical literalism, play a key role in socializing black women to be subservient and self-sacrificing.

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