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I would suggest that one distinct way in which African- American literature changed because of the Harlem Renaissance was in how issues of race and ethnicity could be openly discussed. The issue of race and racial difference in American society had not been so openly broached until the Harlem Renaissance. The idea that the topic could be so prevalent in literature and in consciousness was a distinct change in African- American literature due to the Harlem Renaissance.
African- American literature was able to openly discuss and analyze the question as to what it meant to be a person of color in a predominantly White society. The ability to explore race in a multitude of manners and generate more questions about the complexity of racial composition in America is where the greatest impact of the movement on African -American literature lies. It is in this development where African- American literature changed as a result of the Harlem Renaissance. Race and ethnicity became a topic that involved introspection, competing modes of thought, and open thought that might not generate easy answers but would tug at the fabric of all American literature and help to define African- American literature.
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