Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Grey Gundaker


"Real Talk: Blackness and Whiteness in the Works of Jefferson Pinder, Dave Chappelle, and Aaron McGruder" will examine twenty-first century constructions of race by African Americans. I am interested in how visual artist Jefferson Pinder, comedian Dave Chappelle, and comic artist Aaron McGruder interrogate and incorporate race, particularly whiteness, into their respective works. Each artist challenges hegemonic constructions of race, utilizing technology and taking full advantage of our visualized culture to present their examinations of race. I selected the artists because of their intimate knowledge of their respective crafts, their use of popular culture, and their diverse perspectives on race in America. Additionally, the artists share a regional background in that they came of age while living in the Washington, DC metro area, which I believe heavily informs their racial views.;Inside their world of the visual arts, comic strips, and television, I argue that the artists are examining blackness while re-defining what it means and inserting, visually, whiteness into the discourse. These black constructions of race have always existed; however, I suggest that the post-soul generation is expanding concepts of race by taking the constructions from the shadows of African American culture and situating them in mainstream culture. In this attempt to challenge homogenous notions of race, the artists cull from several disciplines, which call for an interdisciplinary approach. Employing an interdisciplinary method, I will use theories of race and theories of representation. Additionally, theoretical approaches from art history, visual culture, studies of television, and film studies help frame and ground my research. This twenty-first century discourse from African American cultural workers makes my dissertation timely because it captures an important transition in American culture carried out through the combination of art, media, and racial discourse.



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