Lorraine Hansberry American Literature Analysis
In “The Negro Writer and His Roots: Toward a New Romanticism” (1959), a speech she delivered shortly before A Raisin in the Sun premiered in New York, Hansberry outlined her artistic credo as well as analyzed the roots of her political radicalism. She asserted the responsibility of black writers to disprove certain myths widespread on the American scene. They must challenge the faulty assumptions that art should not be social in its impetus; that individuals exist independent of their sociocultural environment; that the values of middle class, industrialized society necessarily represent those of the lower class; and that the United States has unlimited time to eradicate inequality among its citizens. As her mentor W. E. B. Du Bois foretold, “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.”
As is true in her plays as well, Hansberry’s perspective in the essay is a balanced one; blacks themselves can be slaves to a perverted materialism rather than champions of freedom, prone to color prejudice of their own, to romanticizing the sensuality and sleaziness of urban black life, and to apologizing for having been victimized in the past. Yet, having accepted all that, it remains true that “in this most hostile nation,” her black sisters and brothers are not really free citizens who enjoy equal job opportunities and who can vote without harassment or partake of other basic rights of American life. Therefore, along...
(The entire section is 2388 words.)
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