AFROAMER 271 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: African-American Art, Slave Narrative

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AFRO AMER 271 - Lecture 3 - Representation of Black Bodies (1/24/17)
Read “Dear White Brother” AKA “Cher Frere Blanc” by Leopold Senghor
Proponents of negritude require blackness and whiteness
Long history of blacks being told they are lesser, equally long history of blacks showing
and saying they are better
A black essential identity is going along with a color identity which is the same as
defining a white essential identity
How does “Dear White Brother” talk about black representation?
Says that blacks are always black but whites change color when embarrassed, cold,
dead, born
Asks how could blacks be the colored race when white are the ones that change color
and blacks always stay black
Doing anything will always reduce a black person to “black”
Shows how white people have space to say they are certain other things instead of just
“white”
Acknowledges how he is forced to be strictly “black” -- critique the black representation
by using the mechanisms he was defined by to define whites and misrepresents them
Our society absurdly defines a phenotype (the genes that one can see like blue eyes,
brown skin, black hair) using limiting terms like “black,” “white,” or “red”
No one is exactly black or white or red
You will never meet a person who is the color black
Neo Slave narratives draw from slave narratives to expand for the contemporary time
period, causing conversation between slave narratives and the narrative of the
contemporary author
Most people believe that art can be political but it doesn’t have to be
Art simply needs to be expressive
However, African American art is always political because it has expression of freedom,
social injustice, and the oppression faced by African Americans
There is no way to escape this because all expression of African Americans deal
with defining themselves as individuals or a group of artists instead of the
collective “black” people that white America defines them as
Slave Narrative Structure
Starts with preface from a white person
A preface by a white person was necessary for slave narratives to legitimize the
views expressed by the ex-slave in the rest of the book
Slave narratives used for abolitionist causes
Naturally became a form of propaganda tailored towards to abolitionist
movement
Usually focuses on being right and Christian
The writers had to present their stories in a way that is always authentic to cater to the
abolitionist cause
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