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 the public willingly accepts the untypical in Nordics, but feels cheated if the untypical is portrayed

in others. The author of Scarlet Sister Mary complained to me that her neighbors objected to her

book on the grounds that she had the characters thinking, and everybody know that Nigras don’t think.



Books by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God / Mules and Men  / Jonah’s Gourd Vine / Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica

Zora Neale Hurston : Novels and Stories / Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography

Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston: The Common Bond

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What White Publishers Won’t Print

By Zora Neale Hurston


I have been amazed by the Anglo-Saxon’s lack of curiosity about the internal lives and emotions of the Negroes, and for that matter, any non-Anglo-Saxon peoples within our borders, above the class of unskilled labor.

This lack of interest is much more important than it seems at first glance. It is even more important at this time than it was in the past. The internal affairs of the nation have bearings on the international stress and strain, and this gap in the national literature now has tremendous weight in world affairs. National coherence and solidarity is implicit in a thorough understanding of the various groups within a nation, and this lack of knowledge about the internal emotions and behavior of the minorities cannot fail to bar out understanding. Man, like all the other animals, fears and is repelled by that which he does not understand, and mere difference is apt to connote something malign.

The fact that there is no demand for incisive and full-dress stories around Negroes above the servant class is indicative of something of vast importance to this nation. This blank is NOT filled by the fiction built around upper-class Negroes exploiting the race problem. Rather, it tends to point it up. A college-bred Negro still is not a person like other folks, but an interesting problem, more or less. It calls to mind a story of slavery time. In this story, a master with more intellectual curiosity than usual sets out to see how much he could teach a particularly bright slave of his. When he had gotten him up to higher mathematics and to be a fluent reader of Latin, he called in a neighbor to show off his brilliant slave, and to argue that Negroes had brains just like the slave-owners had, and given the same opportunities, would turn out the same.

The Visiting master of slaves looked and listened, tried to trap the literate slave in Algebra and Latin, and “failing to do so in both, fumed to his neighbor and said:

“Yes, he certainly knows his higher mathematics, and he can read Latin better than many white men I know, but I cannot bring myself to believe that he understands a thing that he is doing. It is all an aping of our culture. All on the outside. You are crazy if you think that it has changed him inside in the least. Turn him loose, and he will revert at once to the jungle. He is still a savage, and no amount of translating Virgil and Ovid have done is going to change him. In fact, all you have done is to turn a useful savage into a dangerous beast.”

That was in slavery time, yes, and we have come a long, long way [since] then, but the troubling thing is that there are still too many who refuse to believe in the ingestion and digestion of western culture as yet. Hence the lack of literature about the higher emotions and love life of upper-class Negroes and the minorities in general.

Publishers and producers are cool to the idea. Now, do not leap to the conclusion that editors and producers constitute a special class of un-believers. That is far from true. Publishing houses and theatrical promoters are in business to make money. They will sponsor anything that they believe will sell. They shy away from romantic stories about Negroes and Jews because they feel that they know the public indifference to such works, unless the story or play involves racial tension. It can then be offered as a study in Sociology, with the romantic side subdued. They know the skepticism in general about the complicated emotions in the minorities. The average American just cannot conceive of it, and would be apt to reject the notion, and publishers and producers take the stand that they are not in business to educate, but to make money.

Sympathetic as they might be, they cannot afford to be crusaders in proof of this, you can note various publishers and producers edging forward a little, and ready to go even further when the trial balloons show that the public is ready for it. This public lack of interest is the nut of the matter. The question naturally arises as to the why of this indifference, not to say skepticism, to the internal life of educated minorities.

The answer lies in what we may call THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF UNNATURAL HISTORY. This is an intangible built on told belief. It is assumed that all non-Anglo-Saxons are uncomplicated stereotypes. Everybody knows all about them. They are lay figures mounted in the museum where all may take them in at a glance. They are made of bent wires without insides at all. So how could anybody write a book about the non-existent?

The American Indian is a contraption of copper wires, eternal war-bonnet, with no equipment for laughter, expressionless face and that says “How” when spoken to. His only activity is treachery leading to massacres. Who is so dumb not to know all about Indians, even if they have never seen one, nor talked with anyone who ever knew one?

The American Negro exhibit is a group of two. Both of these mechanical toys are built so that their feet eternally shuffle, and their eyes pop and roll. Shuffling feet and those popping, rolling eyes denote the Negro, and no characterization is genuine without this monotony. One is seated on a stump picking away on his banjo and singing and laughing. The other is a most amoral character before a share-cropper’s shack mumbling, about injustice. Doing this makes him out to be a Negro “intellectual.” It is as simple as all that.

The whole museum is dedicated to the convenient “typical.” In there is the “typical” Oriental, Jew, Yankee, Western, Southerner, Latin, and even out-of-favor Nordics like the German. The Englishman say old chappie, and the gesticulating Frenchman. The least observant American can know them all at a glance. However, the public willingly accepts the untypical in Nordics, but feels cheated if the untypical is portrayed in others. The author of Scarlet Sister Mary complained to me that her neighbors objected to her book on the grounds that she had the characters thinking, and everybody know that Nigras don’t think.”

But for the national welfare, it is urgent to realize that minorities do think, and think about something other than the race problem. That they are very human and internally, according to natural endowment, are just like everybody else. So long as this is not conceived, there must remain that feeling of insurmountable difference, and difference to the average man means something bad. If people were made right, they would be just like him. The trouble with the purely problem arguments is that they leave too much unknown. Argue all you will or may about injustice, but as long as the majority cannot conceive of a Negro or a Jew feeling and reacting inside just as they do, the majority will keep right on believing that people who do not look like them cannot possibly feel as they do, and conform to the established pattern. It is well known that there must be a body of waived matter, let us say, things accepted and taken for granted by all in a community before there can be that commonality of feeling.

The usual phrase is having things in Common until this is thoroughly established in respect to Negroes in America, as well as of other minorities, it will remain impossible for the majority to conceive of a Negro experiencing a deep and abiding love and not just the passion of sex. That a great mass of Negroes can be stirred by the pageants of Spring and Fall; the extravaganza of summer, and the majesty of winter. That they can and do experience discovery of the numerous subtle faces as a foundation for a great and selfless love, and the diverse nuances that go to destroy that love as with others. As it is now, this capacity, this evidence of high and complicated emotions, is ruled out. Hence the lack of interest in a romance uncomplicated by the race struggle has so little appeal.

This insistence on defeat in a story where upper-class Negroes are portrayed, perhaps says something from the subconscious of the majority. Involved in Western culture, the hero or the heroine, or both, must appear frustrated and go down to defeat, somehow. Our literature reeks with it. Is it the same as saying, “You can translate Virgil, and fumble with the differential calculus, but can you really comprehend it? Can you cope with our subtleties?

That brings us to the folklore of “reversion to type.” This curious doctrine has such wide acceptance that it is tragic. One has only to examine the huge literature on it to be convinced. No matter how high we may seem to climb, put us under strain and we revert to type, that is, to the bush. Under a superficial layer of western culture, the jungle drums throb in our veins.

This ridiculous notion makes it possible for that majority who accept it to conceive of even a man like the suave and scholarly Dr. Charles S. Johnson to hide a black cat’s bone on his person, and indulge in a midnight voodoo ceremony, complete with leopard skin and drums if threatened with the loss of the presidency of Fisk University, or the love of his wife. “Under the skin . . . better to deal with them in business, etc., but otherwise keep them at a safe distance and under control. I tell you, Carl Van Vechten, think as you like, but they are just not like us.”

The extent and extravagance of this notion reaches the ultimate in nonsense in the widespread belief that the Chinese have bizarre genitals, because of that eye-fold that makes their eyes seem to slant. In spite of the fact that no biology has ever mentioned any such difference in reproductive organs makes no matter. Millions of people believe it. “Did you know that a Chinese has . . .” Consequently, their quiet contemplative manner is interpreted as a sign of slyness and a treacherous inclination.

But the opening wedge for better understanding has been thrust into the crack. Though many Negroes denounced Carl Van Vechten’s Nigger Heaven because of the title, and without ever reading it, the book, written in the deepest sincerity, revealed Negroes of wealth and culture to the white public.

It created curiosity even when it aroused skepticism. It made folks want to know. Worth Tuttle Hedden’s The Other Room has definitely widened the opening. Neither of these well-written works take a romance of upper-class Negro life as the central theme, but the atmosphere and the background is there. These works should be followed up by some incisive and intimate stories from the inside.

The realistic story around a Negro insurance official, dentist, general practitioner, undertaker and the like would be most revealing. Thinly disguised fiction around the well known Negro names is not the answer, either. The “exceptional” as well as the Ol’ Man Rivers has been exploited all out of context already. Everybody is already resigned to the “exceptional” Negro, and willing to be entertained by the “quaint.” To grasp the penetration of Western civilization in a minority, it is necessary to know how the average behaves and lives. Books that deal with people like in Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street is the necessary metier. For various reasons, the average, struggling, non-morbid Negro is the best-kept secret in America. His revelation to the public is the thing needed to do away with that feeling of difference which inspires fear, and which ever expresses itself in dislike.

It is inevitable that this knowledge will destroy many illusions and romantic traditions which America probably likes to have around. But then, we have no record of anybody sinking into a lingering death on finding out that there was no Santa Claus. The old world will take it in its stride. The realization that Negroes are no better nor no worse, and at times just as bonny as everybody else, will hardly kill off the population of the nation.

Outside of racial attitudes, there is still another reason why this literature should exist. Literature and other arts are supposed to hold up the mirror to nature. With only the fractional “exceptional” and the “quaint” portrayed, a true picture of Negro life in America cannot be. A great principle of national art has been violated.

These are the things that publishers and producers, as the accredited representatives of the American people, have not as yet taken into consideration sufficiently. Let there be light!

Negro Digest, April 1950

Source: MahoganyBooks

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Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography

By Robert E. Hemenway (Author) / Foreword by Alice Walker


Zora Neale Hurston—novelist, folklorist, anthropologist, and child of the rural black South—transformed each hour of her life into something bubbling, exuberant, and brimming with her joy in just being. Robert Hemenway captures the effervescence of this daughter of the Harlem Renaissance in his brilliant and original literary biography. He provides for the first time a full length study of Hurston's life and art, using unpublished letters and manuscripts and personal interviews with many who knew her.

His sensitive reconstruction of Miss Hurston's life  details her two marriages, her relations with her patron, Mrs. R. Osgood Mason, her mentor, Franz Boas, and her friend Langston Hughes; her indictment on a morals charge in 1948; and the sad, final years leading to her death as a penniless occupant of a Florida welfare home. But most important, his interpretation of her art and scholarship, including her extraordinary novels, autobiography, and popular treatment of black folkways, underscores her deep and abiding commitment to the black folk tradition.

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Zora Neale Hurston, folklorist and writer, became a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston was born and educated in Eatonville, Florida, the first incorporated black city in the United States. At the age of 16, she left her home to work with a traveling theatrical company. The company ended up in New York City , where Hurston studied anthropology at Columbia University. She then attended Howard University as well as Barnard College.

In 1931, Hurston collaborated with Langston Hughes to write the play Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life in Three Acts. She wrote her most acclaimed work, Their Eyes Were Watching God in 1937. After writing her autobiography (Dust Tracks on a Road) in 1942, she went on to teach at what is now North Carolina Central University. Her work, revived by feminists in the 1970s, has gained her considerable recognition as one of the most important black writers in American history.

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Julia Peterkin (1880-1961) pioneered in demonstrating the literary potential for serious depictions of the African American experience. Rejecting the prevailing sentimental stereotypes of her times, she portrayed her black characters with sympathy and understanding, endowing them with the full dimensions of human consciousness. In these novels and stories, she tapped the richness of rural southern black culture and oral traditions to capture the conflicting realities in an African American community and to reveal a grace and courage worthy of black pride.

Peterkin is a southern white woman, but she has the eye and the ear to see beauty and know truth.—W. E. B. Du Bois

Peterkin's novel Scarlet Sister Mary won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928 and was made into a Broadway play in 1930. Born in 1880 in Laurens County, South Carolina, Peterkin's work was known for sympathetic portrayals of Blacks in the South.

She [Julia Peterkin] was one of very few white authors to specialize in the Negro experience and character. But her work was not always praised, and Pulitzer Prize–winning Scarlet Sister Mary was called obscene and banned at the public library in Gaffney, a South Carolina town. The Gaffney Ledger newspaper, however, serially published the complete book. . . . Julia Peterkin used Gullah dialect in many of her novels and stories. It is said that her use encouraged Zora Neale Hurston to use Negro dialect in her novels, contrary to the practice of the other writers in the Harlem Renaissance, some of whom objected in print to such usage. Hurston wrote that she had met Peterkin and would begin a correspondence, but no letters from either to the other have ever been found.Wikipedia

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The Other Room is a reprint of the prize-winning novel about a young woman who unknowingly signs up to teach classes at an all-black college in New Orleans in 1920. It is one of the best—and earliest—views of breaking the color line as well as a touching love story of a man and woman of different races. The new introduction by Hedden scholar and biographer P. V. LeForge brings the novel into historical context and gives a brief sketch of this wonderful, but heretofore forgotten writer. 

Interracial love story set at a fictional black college (Southern?) in the early 1900s. "Nina Latham was a southern girl, trained in a rigid code of black and white. She wanted to get away from home, but when she signed for her new job she didn't she would be working with Negroes, eating with them, living among them. An certainly she didn't know that she would meet handsome young Leon who could have passed for white—but wouldn't."

I haven't read a more satisfying novel in 1947 than Worth Tuttle Hedden's The Other Room.Lewis Gannett, New York Herald Tribune

Worth Tuttle Hedden (1896-1985) was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. She attended what is now Duke University and the Columbia School of Journalism. In 1920 she spent a year teaching at Straight College in New Orleans. She is the author of two other novels: Love Is a Wound and Wives of High Pasture

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No other contemporary novel received the volume and intensity of criticism and curiosity that greeted Nigger Heaven upon its publication in 1926. Carl Van Vechten's novel generated a storm of controversy because of its scandalous title and fed an insatiable hunger on the part of the reading public for material relating to the black culture of Harlem's jazz clubs, cabarets, and social events. 'The book and not the title is the thing', James Weldon Johnson insisted with regard to Nigger Heaven, and the book is indeed a nuanced and vibrant portrait of 'the great black walled city' of Harlem.

Opening on a scene of tawdry sensationalism, Nigger Heaven shifts decisively to a world of black middle-class respectability, defined by intellectual values, professional ambition, and an acute consciousness of class and racial identity. Here is a Harlem where upper-class elites discuss art in well-appointed drawing rooms; rowdy and lascivious drunks spend long nights in jazz clubs and speakeasies; and, politically conscious young intellectuals drink coffee and debate 'the race problem' in walk-up apartments.

At the center of the story, two young people - a quiet, serious librarian and a volatile aspiring writer - struggle to love each other as their dreams are slowly suffocated by racism. This reissue is based on the seventh printing, which included poetry composed by Langston Hughes especially for the book. Kathleen Pfeiffer's astute introduction investigates the controversy surrounding the shocking title and shows how the novel functioned in its time as a site to contest racial violence. She also signals questions of racial authenticity and racial identity raised by a novel about black culture written by a white admirer of that culture.

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Black writers in a ghetto of the publishing industry's makingKathryn Stockett and Sue Monk Kidd are living the dream of thousands of authors, myself included. But they are not the first white women to pen stories of the black American South and be lauded for their efforts. In 1928, Julia Peterkin wrote a novel, "Scarlet Sister Mary," for which she received the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Stockett's and Kidd's novels tackle racism and celebrate the power of friendship and acceptance. Both novels were given beautiful covers that did not reveal the race of the characters. Both books were marketed to black and white audiences.

 . . . . Literature about the oppressed written by the oppressor has a long tradition. The trend can be traced all the way to colonialism -- a movement that was not only physical but textual, the evidence of which can be found in the diaries, letters and journals of colonists, settlers and plantation slave owners. Representation of African Americans by white people in texts records a history of "inferiority." Based on these perceptions, African Americans have endured slavery, genocide, medical apartheid and segregation.

This "inferiority" is a tool fundamental to ethnic distancing in society. Today, this tool is used with great precision in the mainstream publishing industry. While, yes, the distancing may not be total -- meaning a few select African American authors have "crossed over" into the mainstream -- the work of many African Americans authors, myself included, has been lumped into one heap known as "African American literature." This suggests that our literature is singular and anomalous, not universal. It is as if we American authors who happen to be of African descent are not a people but a genre much like mystery, romance or thriller. Walk through your local chain bookstore and you will not see sections tagged British Literature, White American Literature, Korean Literature, Pakistani Literature and so on. None of these ethnicities are singled out or objectified the way African American writers are. Washington Posty

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 The Help (Kathryn Stockett)  /  The Secret Life of Bees  (Sue Monk Kidd)


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Taking on the Jim Crow media—Hubert Bauch, The Gazette—Landing the latest Reed oeuvre was an unexpected coup for fledgling Montreal publishing house Baraka Books. “It came out of the blue and I just jumped at the chance,” said publisher Robin Philpot, who had been reading Reed for years and had struck up an acquaintance and a correspondence. “It’s an honour for us to publish such an important writer.”

Reed says he thought of Baraka after his New York agent, the high-powered Barbara Lowenstein, categorically told him that no American publisher would touch the book. He casts the move to publish in this country as his own flight to Canada, “a Black Rock ferry crossing” of the border so he could make his case. “This one goes against the grain of what is expected of African-Americans, not only in book publishing, but in theatre, film, in television, that race is no longer an issue in American society. The point of view that’s welcomed in the media is that the problems confronting the black poor are a result of behaviour and lifestyle, the self-destructive behaviour of people who live in Harlem.”

He sneers at the establishment line being propagated by mainstream media that with Obama’s election America has entered a “post-race” era. “This whole idea of racism, mortgage lending, health-care problems, racial profiling, all these are sort of ignored in order to present the country as a post-race paradise, like the peaceable kingdom.” He notes assassination threats against the president are up 300 per cent since Obama took office. ”And the media has become the mob leader. That’s why I call them the Jim Crow media”— Montreal Gazette

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Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media

The Return of the Nigger Breakers

By Ishmael Reed

For Ishmael Reed, Barack Obama, like Michelangelo’s St. Anthony, is a tormented man, haunted by modern reincarnations of the demonic spirits used to break slaves. These were the Nigger Breakers men like Edward Covey, who was handed the job of breaking Frederick Douglass. Isn’t it ironic, writes Reed: A media that scolded the Jim Crow South in the 1960s now finds itself hosting the bird. In this collection, which includes several unpublished essays, Ishmael Reed brings to bear his grasp of the four-centuries-long African-American experience as he turns his penetrating gaze on Barack Obama’s election and first year in power establishing himself as the conscience of a country that was once moved by Martin Luther King’s dream.—Baraka Books (April 15, 2010)


In the past 40 years, Reed has published more than 20 books and has also made his mark as an editor, publisher, critic, journalist, songwriter, librettist and fearsome letter-to-the-editor writer…. Reed is among the most American of American writers, if by ‘American’ we mean a quality defined by its indefinability and its perpetual transformations as new ideas, influences and traditions enter our cultural conversation.—The New York Times

With Ishmael Reed, the most persistent myths and prejudice crumble under powerful unrelenting jabs and razor-sharp insight.Le Devoir, Montreal

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An Interview with Ishmael Reed

By Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson: Why were you unable to get this book published in the United States?

Ishmael Reed: This is attributable to the state of black letters. Serious fiction and non fiction by blacks are becoming extinct, except for that which upholds the current line coming from the media owners and the corporations that all of the problems of Africans and African Americans are due to their behavior. This is true not only for literature but for black theater, film, art galleries and opinion columns as well. I saw a show of Kara Walker’s work at the Brooklyn Museum. I feel that this young brilliant artist’s growth is being stunted by museum curators, and big money capitalists. Even some white intellectuals support her most mediocre work and pit her against the great Betye Saar who uses a variety of materials and subject matter and whose work contains more depth. Her supporters limit her work just as David Selznick limited the range of Hattie McDaniel. I’d love to see her do color. The Brooklyn museum used the neo-confederate line when describing her work. That her work presented a south in which “there were no heroes of villains. ” This is the way the slave trade is being described. . . .     The Return of the Nigger Breaker

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Ida Cox (February 25, 1896 – November 10, 1967) was an African American singer and vaudeville performer, best known for her blues performances and recordings. She was billed as "The Uncrowned Queen of the Blues" Cox was born in February, 1896 as Ida Prather in Toccoa, Habersham County, Georgia (Toccoa was in Habersham County, not yet Stephens County at the time), the daughter of Lamax and Susie (Knight) Prather, and grew up in Cedartown, Georgia, singing in the local African Methodist Church choir.

She left home to tour with travelling minstrel shows, often appearing in blackface into the 1910s; she married fellow minstrel performer Adler Cox. By 1920, she was appearing as a headline act at the 81 Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia; another headliner at that time was Jelly Roll Morton. . . .—Wikipedia


Ida Cox—Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues


Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues

                                            By Ida Cox

I hear these women raving 'bout their monkey men
About their trifling husbands and their no good friends
These poor women sit around all day and moan
Wondering why their wandering papa's don't come home
But wild women don't worry, wild women don't have no blues

Now when you've got a man, don't never be on the square
'Cause if you do he'll have a woman everywhere
I never was known to treat no one man right
I keep 'em working hard both day and night
'Cause wild women don't worry, wild women don't have their blues

I've got a disposition and a way of my own
When my man starts kicking I let him find another home
I get full of good liquor, walk the streets all night
Go home and put my man out if he don't act right
Wild women don't worry, wild women don't have their blues

You never get nothing by being an angel child
You better change your ways and get real wild
I wanna tell you something, I wouldn't tell you a lie
Wild women are the only kind that ever get by
wild women don't worry, wild women don't have their blues.

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 9 July 2010 




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