College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Critical Ethnic Studies


black masculinity, gender performance, pop culture, Moonlight


This project examines the effects of Black masculinity: its performance, the identity politics that materialize in the discovery of Black “maleness,” and its manifestation through male intrasexual competition to analyze how Black men learn and perform traditional patriarchal masculinity. Existing literature provides evidence regarding patriarchal masculinity as the “political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.” (hooks 2004, 1) Critical media literacy through a Black feminist framework serves as the theoretical lens for conducting a critical analysis of film, music, television, and literature to explore four questions: First, how does patriarchal masculinity act as an anti-Black divisive tool within diasporic spaces? Second, how does the manifestation of patriarchal masculinity, through performative measures, insinuate white supremacist thought into the Black male psyche? Third, by what method does transgenerational trauma situate heteronormativity in the lives of Black men silencing Black joy and liberation? Lastly, how do we reimagine Black masculinity in a non-patriarchal gaze? This historical counter-storytelling project hypothesizes that Black masculinity is first acquired in diasporic spaces (i.e. the ‘Hood) by familial figures and reproduces itself transgenerationally. Utilizing three media texts Fences, Moonlight, and Empire, I analyze the trajectory of Black male performance through the gaze of fatherhood to examine the parallels of historical and contemporary gendered performativity as symptomatic results of white supremacy and internalized racism.