I posted the below quote as a comment over at A Conversation on Cool but it got deleted. Does the very act of thinking about the racial history and connotations of cool make white people uncomfortable?
Cool is all about trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents. It’s about living on the cusp, on the periphery, diving for scraps. Essential to cool is being outside looking in. Others – Indians, immigrants, women, gays – have been “othered,” but until the past 15 percent of America’s history, niggas in real terms have been treated by the country’s majority as, at best, subhuman and, at worst, an abomination. So in the days when they were still literally on the plantation they devised a coping strategy called cool, an elusive mellowing strategy designed to master time and space. Cool, the basic reason blacks remain in the American cultural mix, is an industry of style that everyone in the world can use. It’s finding the essential soul while being essentially lost. It’s the nigga metaphor. And the nigga metaphor is the genius of America.
Read the whole thing.
Related reading: Norman Mailer, “The White Negro” (1957)