Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Cultural relations between Afro-America and Africa have a long history and have gone through a number of phases, seeking expression in a number of artistic and social forms. Despite the importance and significance of this area of African American culture, the transition from one environment to another and from one form of historical conditioning to another has given the intercontinental connections a limited, tentative, and frequently picturesque character. Not the least interesting aspect of I Get on the Bus is the manner in which it enacts some of the tensions in the connections. It recognizes within the disordered sensibility of Evan Norris the problems that even beginning to account for the consequences of the black diaspora must bring into being.

Although the author has good and sufficient personal reasons for setting the novel in Senegal, the choice of country helps to crystallize some of the cultural and historical problems. As one of France’s African possessions, this country has had a cultural development somewhat different from that of the countries that were under British rule. One of the consequences of this difference can be seen in the fact that it was the Senegalese poet and political leader Leopold Senghor who was one of the creators of the term “negritude.” The word is not merely a term coined to emphasize the cultural and humanistic significance of blackness but is rather an ethic of difference. The cultural history of...

(The entire section is 513 words.)