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Cornell Chronicle

‘SPORTING BLACKNESS’ EXAMINES RACE AND REPRESENTATION IN FILM. Sports films, as a genre, are under-appreciated by cinema scholars, according to Samantha Sheppard, … [an] Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies in [Cornell’s] College of Arts and Sciences.

“A lot of sports films are melodramatic,” she said. “They’re feel-good stories, they can be cheesy. Disney has brought us many great but also very fantastical sports films.”

Yet some sports films, both fictional and documentary, make important cultural statements, she argues in her book, “Sporting Blackness: Race, Embodiment, and Critical Muscle Memory on Screen.” In particular, she argues, Black bodies depicted on film have the power to transcend cliched, trite or even racist storylines….

The book opens with an example from professional tennis: superstar Serena Williams.

“She has achieved her stellar and unparalleled athletic career without conforming to white sporting conventions,” Sheppard wrote. “Rather, she wins blackly, via a virtuosic Black body in all of its cornrowed, catsuited and Crip-walking glory.”

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