Writers Explore What It Means To Be ‘Black Cool’

Once just a temperature, “cool” is a word that has come to mean so much more than that: Cool can be applied to an attitude, or a style or a sound — it can even be used to simply mean “OK.”

In a new collection of essays, Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness, writers explore the definition of coolness within African-American culture. Writer Rebecca Walker edited the book and compiled a series of essays aimed to build a “periodic table of black cool, element by element.”

She tells NPR’s Neal Conan: “I really wanted to name ‘black cool’ specifically because I think that the more it’s appropriated, assimilated, commodified, the more distant … the cultural contribution to global discourse becomes from actual black people. If blackness is separated from this aesthetic of cool that comes out of our culture … we lose the understanding of how much we are actually giving to this world.”

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