Racism in Literature Criticism: Racism And Literature By And About African Americans - Essay

Ralph L. Pearson (essay date spring 1977)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Pearson, Ralph L. “Combatting Racism with Art: Charles S. Johnson and the Harlem Renaissance.” American Studies 18, no. 1 (spring 1977): 123-34.

[In the following essay, Pearson focuses on Johnson's role in the Harlem Renaissance movement—especially his writings for Opportunity and other periodicals that emphasized an emerging identity for African Americans—and his belief that art is a means of defeating racism.]

Until the appearance of Patrick Gilpin's essay, “Charles S. Johnson: Entrepreneur of the Harlem Renaissance,”1 the important role of Johnson as a cultivator of the Harlem Renaissance was described in a paragraph or two by...

(The entire section is 5130 words.)

Jerry H. Bryant (essay date 1997)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bryant, Jerry H. “Richard Wright and Bigger Thomas: Grace in Damnation.” In Victims and Heroes: Racial Violence in the African American Novel, pp. 197-210. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997.

[In the following excerpt, Bryant discusses violence and racism in Richard Wright's Native Son, noting that the novel's protagonist, Bigger Thomas, is the first Black character in American literature to substitute his own value system for one given him by white society.]

Of all the African American novelists who have explored the issues raised by violence, Richard Wright is the most probing. It is therefore fitting that he comes to us in medias...

(The entire section is 8110 words.)

Steven G. Kellman (essay date 1999)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kellman, Steven G. “Tenants, Tenets, and Tensions: Bernard Malamud's Blacks and Jews.” In American Literary Dimensions: Poems and Essays in Honor of Melvin J. Friedman, edited by Ben Siegel and Jay L. Halio, pp. 118-27. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1999.

[In the following essay, Kellman discusses the uneasy relationship between African Americans and Jews in Bernard Malamud's The Tenants.]

Each, thought the writer, feels the anguish of the other.

The Tenants

The most controversial cover in the history of The New Yorker offers an apocalyptic vision of amity...

(The entire section is 4224 words.)

Margo V. Perkins (essay date 2000)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Perkins, Margo V. “Getting Basic: Bambara's Re-visioning of the Black Aesthetic.” In Race and Racism in Theory and Practice, edited by Berel Lang, pp. 153-63. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2000.

[In the following essay, Perkins discusses how the writings of Toni Cade Bambara address the exclusion of African American women both by Black men and white feminists.]

Published in 1970, Toni Cade Bambara's The Black Woman continues to speak to many African-American women's experiences three decades later.1 This edited volume of critical essays, poetry, and stories by black women writers and activists is one of the earliest...

(The entire section is 4583 words.)

Karen Overbye (essay date 2001)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Overbye, Karen. “Resisting Ideologies of Race and Gender: Evelyn Scott's Use of the Tragic Mulatto Figure.” In Evelyn Scott: Recovering a Lost Modernist, edited by Dorothy M. Scura and Paul C. Jones, pp. 123-39. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2001.

[In the following essay, Overbye focuses on Evelyn Scott's depiction of two mulatto characters—in Migrations and A Calendar of Sin—through whom Scott comments on the racial, cultural, and artistic oppression of Blacks in American society.]

Whether in direct response to her writing or in discussing her contribution to American letters, contemporary literary critics often drew attention...

(The entire section is 8005 words.)