Critics often chastised the twentieth-century black press for focusing on sex and scandal rather than African American achievements. In Pleasure in the News, Kim Gallon takes an opposing stance-arguing that African American newspapers fostered black sexual expression, agency, and identity. Gallon discusses how journalists and editors created black sexual publics that offered everyday African Americans opportunities to discuss sexual topics that exposed class and gender tensions. While black churches and black schools often encouraged sexual restraint, the black press printed stories that complicated notions about respectability. Sensational coverage also expanded African American women's sexual consciousness and demonstrated the tenuous position of female impersonators, black gay men, and black lesbians in early twentieth African American urban communities. Informative and empowering, Pleasure in the News redefines the significance of the black press in African American history and advancement while shedding light on the important cultural and social role that sexuality played in the power of the black press.
Kim Gallon is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Purdue University.