HUNG by Scott Poulson-Bryant


A Meditation on the Measure of Black Men in America
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Perhaps not the final word on black male sexuality, but an admirable attempt by journalist Poulson-Bryant to leave no taboo undiscussed.

The title’s double entendre isn’t just sexual, explains the author, a founding editor of Vibe and now senior editor of the quarterly America. As used here, “hung” refers both to the legendary size of the African-American man’s penis and to the method used in the not-so-distant-past to lynch black men, often due to fears of miscegenation. Poulson-Bryant’s scattered text hops from one angle to the next without pausing long enough to really develop any of its points, but that’s probably for the best; any sort of thesis worked out here would likely collapse under longer scrutiny. The author describes his suburban upbringing, Ivy League education and experiences as the “first black” at several media institutions, using that as a bridge to a recollection of his college affair with a white girl from Michigan who remarked that he wasn’t as big as she thought he’d be. From here, the narrative rambles around the quite voluminous history of the stereotype that black men have the biggest members, white men’s are smaller and Asian men’s are the smallest of all. Instead of digging up what little research there is on the subject, Poulson-Bryant does what magazine writers frequently do and settles for anecdotal evidence. He serves up plenty of bawdy—and sometimes quite revealing—stories about penis size, interracial hang-ups, racist preconceptions and the massive entertainment business created around the mythology of the ultra-sexualized, nearly animalistic black male. His sources? Mostly his friends: some straight, some gay, a few famous, pretty much everybody with their names changed.

A fairly shallow approach, partly redeemed by its honesty and originality of perspective.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2005
ISBN: 0-385-51002-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2005