What could be a good thesis for the novel Black No More?

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martina-m eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The central theme of the satirical novel Black No More, which also constitutes the main thesis of the novel, is that the obsession with skin color is not only related to race per se, but is connected, on a deeper level, with a economic and political power. Schuyler creates a speculative and provocative novel which aims to address the hypothetical question of what might happen if America were able to completely—but not violently—rid itself of "the Negro problem."

In this novel, a successful physician named Dr. Crookman comes up with an inexpensive way of making black people white for life. As we can see, Schuyler was greatly influenced by the scientific research on eugenics at that time. The word spreads, and a huge number of African Americans undergo the procedure. The concept of "whiteness" is shown to relate closely to political and economic dominance, which is also why blacks are so interested in modifying their skin color.

However, this does not change America for the best. In fact, black business and social enterprises quickly break down. Furthermore, instead of improving the racial perception in America, this transformation generates paranoia, as Americans are unable to tell the "real" whites from the "fake" ones. 

We get to the point that, during the final election campaign, research concludes that very few Americans are racially pure. Everyone is paranoid about the chosen candidates, as it is impossible to be sure whether they are really white or not. Furthermore, the procedure does not affect offspring, so many are terrified of being exposed as former blacks. The main character's wife herself gives birth to a mulatto child, due to her husband being previously black (although she does not know it).

Finally, a belief that the process creates individuals who are excessively white starts to spread. We find out that the point wasn't really to be "white," but rather to be the "original white" and therefore real. Everyone else can only hope to imitate the "real" whites through the procedure but will never really be like them. Thus the racial differences still stand but are actually reversed. Now, being too white represents inferiority, just like being black did at the beginning of the novel. For this reason, the "real" whites start using skin products to turn their skin darker and to reaffirm their superiority over the "fake" whites.

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Black No More

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