O'SheaJackson, All Grown Up

O'SheaJackson, All Grown Up

Mark Anthony Neal says that Ice Cube's 43rd birthday---and two decade career---are a cause for celebration

Mark Anthony Neal

by Mark Anthony Neal, June 18, 2012

O'SheaJackson, All Grown Up

Ice Cube

helping Hip-Hop grow up in the public eye, as he has also grown up before our eyes.

A relatively obscure moment stands-out, in terms of the complexity of Ice Cube’s identity and his professional choices.  While many remember his star turn in Boyz in the Hood, relatively few remember or even saw his role in Charles Burnett’s The Glass Shield (1995) which depicted Cube in the role of Teddy Woods, a victim of corruption in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.  Ice Cube’s choice to work with Burnett, a member of  the LA Rebellion, the cohort of Black filmmakers like Halie Gerima and Julie Dash who emerged in the 1970s, and whose films Killer of Sheep (1977) and To Sleep with Anger (1990) are generally regarding as some of the greatest achievement in Black filmmaking, was perhaps the best evidence of Cube’s desire to take his acting and filmmaking craft seriously.

Ice Cube was part of generation of young Black men, who were conscious that they might not see the age of 25; this, of course, has not changed, though today’s young Black males have little expectation that they will reach that age—Trayvon Martin was reminder that even the so-called “good” kids are under assault.  For that reason alone we should celebrate Ice Cube’s 43rd birthday—and his ability to sustain a career that has consistently challenged our perception of who Black men can be.

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