Summary (Identities & Issues in Literature)
George S. Schuyler’s Black No More offers a bitingly satirical attack upon America’s color phobia. His targets included bigoted whites who see the perpetuation of racism as a matter of economic and political interest, black leaders who waffle between appealing to white financial backers and appeasing their black constituents, and all who cloak their ignorance and hatred with racial rhetoric.
The plot of Black No More centers upon Schuyler’s speculation of what might happen if America were to find a means to rid itself of the “Negro problem.” In an effort to uplift his race, Dr. Junius Crookman, a respected black physician, invents a process by which black people can inexpensively turn themselves permanently white. The success of his process leads him to open up numerous Black No More clinics across America to handle the throngs of hopeful clients.
His first and most eager customer is Max Disher, who sees “chromatic enhancement” initially as a chance to get a white woman and eventually to run various fund-raising shams under the auspices of the Knights of Nordica, led by the Imperial Grand Wizard, Reverend Givens. As a white man, Max takes a new name, Matthew Fisher. He soon is proving his talents as a brilliant organizer, political manipulator, and white supremacist working for “the cause.” Ironically, the woman of his Harlem dreams and eventual wife, Helen, turns out to be the daughter of Reverend Givens....
(The entire section is 455 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition)
In George S. Schuyler’s Black No More, Max Disher and his friend, Bunny Brown, are African American World War I veterans out at a Harlem nightclub, when two high-class white couples enter the club. Max is immediately transfixed by one of the women, Helen Givens. He asks her to dance but is shocked when she tells him she does not dance with “niggers.” The next morning, Bunny tells him that the local newspaper is featuring a story about a black scientist, Dr. Junius Crookman, who has found a way to turn black people white. Max gets the treatment, sells his story to a newspaper for traveling money, changes his name to Matthew Fisher, and returns to his hometown, Atlanta, Georgia.
In Atlanta, “Matthew Fisher” attends a meeting of the Knights of Nordica, an organization of white laborers led by the Reverend Henry Givens. Passing himself off as an anthropologist, Matthew works his way into the organization. Meanwhile, Crookman’s invention, Black-No-More, has become so successful that it not only threatens the livelihoods of white racists and the black businesses of Harlem but also affects the National Social Equality League and black cultural nationalist Santorp Licorice. Santorp forms a temporary alliance with the Knights of Nordica.
Matthew works for the Knights as a publicist, hires his old friend Bunny to spy on Santorp (who is on the Nordica payroll), and marries Helen Givens. Matthew and Bunny are then hired by a South Carolina plant manager to help his company avert a workers’ strike. Matthew gives a speech to the workers supporting their labor initiatives and then hires operatives to spread rumors that Swanson, the labor leader, is really African American.
When Helen becomes pregnant and insists on having the baby at home, Matthew’s worst fear, that the baby will be black, drives...
(The entire section is 754 words.)