Autobiography and Black Identity Politics: Racialization in by Kenneth Mostern

By Kenneth Mostern

Why has autobiography been imperative to African American political speech through the 20th century? Kenneth Mostern illustrates the connection among narrative and racial different types similar to "colored", "Negro", "black" or "African American" within the paintings of writers similar to W. E. B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Paul Robeson, Angela Davis and bell hooks. Mostern exhibits how those autobiographical narratives try and build and rework the political meanings of blackness. This wide-ranging learn will curiosity all these operating in African American stories, cultural reports and literary idea.

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10 Sommer herself is ambivalent about whether to call such a statement and such a textual practice ‘‘autobiographical,’’ since she worries that the term implies individualist narrative. Such ‘‘testimony on behalf of,’’ which is clearly one element in all African-American Autobiography Study (though how significant an element is something about which critics differ), is precisely that which permits us to see what is generally considered definitive by individualist scholarship: thus, regardless of the ‘‘success’’ or ‘‘failure’’ of the ‘‘I,’’ its testimony is only about itself.

Meanwhile this politics, to be effective, will not limit itself to those who have Jordan’s race and gender. However, the key moment in understanding the nature of the emergence of black feminist articulation, toward which this essay is historically pivotal, is in the part of the essay I intentionally skipped until this point: the headnote composed for its 1981 republication. It reads: If it is not apparent from the text, then let me make it clear that I wrote this from the inside. As a Black woman, and as a human being within the First World Movement, and as a woman who loves women as well as she loves men .

By contrast, the argument of this chapter concerns the relationship of African-American Autobiography Studies to other versions of the study of autobiography. I will suggest that African-American Studies has tended to place autobiography in a relatively stable location in the 30 African-American autobiography field: where ‘‘I’’ tends to have a determinate relation to a specifically racial ‘‘we’’; and where the text provides for its audience a way to symbolize racialization as a version of the real.

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