This study analyzes black men’s quest for love and intimacy in the construction and conceptualization of black masculinity and manhood. To explore these concepts, I analyze Toni Morrison’s Beloved, James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, and the 2016 movie Moonlight. When black men are maturing or even after adolescence, they must come to terms with personal and deep aspects of their lives such as vulnerability, intimacy, love, and loneliness. I investigate how sexual exploitation of the black male body from rape, sexual assault, and homophobia leads to the rupture of their corporeal spatial existence, causing men to question their manhood. Once these black men question their manhood, they interrogate their own existence and humanity as racialized and gendered people in an anti-black and racist United States. Black men must utilize love in their lives to redefine a healthier and fluid definition of manhood to escape from dangers of self-harm and violence toward others. This research helps create a nuance in analyzing the vulnerability and intimate lives of black men in literature and popular culture.


Wright, Josephine


Africana Studies


African American Studies | Africana Studies | American Film Studies | American Literature | Fiction | History of Gender | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


love, vulnerability, intimacy, loneliness, afro-pessimism, black feminism, black men, African-American literature, masculinity, manhood, social death, queer, sexual exploitation, hegemonic masculinity, salvation, hope

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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