The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Black No More (subtitled Being an Account of the Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free, A.D. 1933-1940) begins with African Americans Max Disher and Bunny Brown considering the complexities of color prejudice in the United States. Max is rebuffed by a white woman at a Harlem bar after asking her to dance. The anger Max feels at this snub makes him enthusiastic about the news that Dr. Julius Crookman, an African American scientist, has devised a process that will turn black people white. Disher becomes the first person to undergo Crookman’s process. After selling his story to a newspaper, The Scimitar, for $1,000, Max heads to Atlanta to seek out the white woman who had laughed at his advance in the Harlem bar.

The novel simultaneously follows the exploits of Max Disher—who changes his name to Matthew Fisher—and the efforts of Dr. Crookman and his cohorts, “numbers” banker Henry Johnson and real estate speculator Charlie Foster, to market the process nationwide. Fisher finds work as an adviser to the Knights of Nordica, a white supremacist organization led by the Reverend Henry Givens, whose daughter Helen is the woman who rejected Fisher in New York. Crookman and partners market Black No More throughout the United States. The racial transformation of the black population leads to a breakdown of black business, philanthropic, and social uplift enterprises. Among...

(The entire section is 432 words.)

Black No More Bibliography

(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Ferguson, Jeffrey B. The Sage of Sugar Hill: George S. Schuyler and the Harlem Renaissance. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2005. First full biography of Schuyler; covers his life and career, concluding that Schuyler was a paradox.

Guesser, John C. “Review: George Schuyler, Samuel L. Brooks, and Max Disher.” African American Review 27, no. 4 (Winter, 1993): 679-686. Ostensibly a review of the posthumous publication of Schuyler’s dystopian science fiction novel, Black Empire, but Guesser widens his discussion to critique Schuyler’s critical reception, arguing that Schuyler was a complicated man and writer.

Haslam, Jason. “’The Open Sesame of a Pork-Colored Skin’: Whiteness and Privilege in Black No More.” American Literature, Spring, 2002, 15-30. Haslam analyzes Black No More from a “white studies” perspective, demonstrating how the racial and class dynamics of the work reinforce one another, even when “pure” racial or economic concerns dominate character motivation and the plot.

Kuenz, Jane. “American Racial Discourse, 1900-1930: Schuyler’s Black No More.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction 30, no. 2 (Winter, 1997): 170-192. Reviews the cultural context in which Black No More was written, demonstrating that Schuyler was consciously reacting to the rise of an American obsession with race purity on both sides of the color line and that he consequently set out to attack both black and white promulgators of racial ideology.

Rayson, Ann. “George Schuyler: Paradox Among ’Assimilationist’ Writers.” Black American Literature Forum 12, no. 3 (Autumn, 1978): 102-106. Focusing largely on Schuyler’s 1966 autobiography, Black and Conservative, Rayson argues that the text does not fit the prototypical African American autobiography, even as other aspects of his career as a journalist and writer, as well as his personal life, do fit, however awkwardly, the model of the assimilated writer.