1. “Questlove’s How Hip-Hop Failed Black America, Part III.” What Happens When Black Loses Its Cool?
“Let’s go back to the word: cool. Cool doesn’t mean a lack of temperature, exactly. It doesn’t mean low affect or indifference. It means cool heat, intensity held in check by reserves of self-possession. Cool is social engagement masquerading as a kind of disengagement. As a result, in any display of cool, there is a slight hint of threat. What if the mask is lifted and the heat released? That threat can be physical or sexual or intellectual, but it’s always felt. Look: That person has power that he or she is not using. Think: What will happen if he or she uses it? React: I don’t exactly know, but I better keep watching to find out. (To step away from black cool for one second into the broader concept of cool, it’s worth noting that reserve is less possible than ever. Think of John F. Kennedy. During his life, there was a gentleman’s agreement to protect his privacy and the office of the president. That permitted cool. These days, privacy has been melted down. Social networking, instant journalism, and culture of humiliation have turned the private-public dynamic more inside out than a Clippers jersey. That hurts cool in general.)”