Sie sind auf Seite 1von 28

How is black identity depicted in literature?

The depiction of black identity in art and literature is more often negative than positive.
This happens for many reasons, such as the history of the black life, stereotypes, and a lack of
advocates for positive portrayal. In the following, I will how literature portrays both black men
and black women, why this is the case, and why it is important to accurately and appropriately
illustrate blacks in literature.
When black women are represented in literature, they are most often portrayed as either a
Mulatta, prostitute or mammy. The Mulatta originated in African-American literature
(Purkayastha, 2011). The typical Mulatta combined the physical characteristics of both races
and the white race could take moral satisfaction and cover their guilt by supposing that they were
lightening up the dark African race (Purkayastha, 2011, p. 29). While the Mulatta image may
not seem terrible, the problem is that she is often portrayed as having a physical beauty that
surpassed that of her mistress whom she served as a house slave and whose envy and hatred she
had to encounter and endure every day (Purkayastha, 2011, p. 29). To readers, this image instills
that even if a black woman is a Mulatta, she can only work as a slave and/or a mistress; a
negative connotation. In other literature, black women are portrayed as prostitutes, or weak,
uneducated sexual objects (Wyatt, 1988, p. 49). Additionally, these black women prostitutes are
having a sexual prowess, insatiable sexual hunger, libido and absence of morality
(Purkayastha, 2011, p. 27). When comparing the prostitute role of black women to that of a white
woman, the black woman is known within the confines of her own community a freedom from
sexist categories (Purkayastha, 2011, p. 26). These images of black women make readers
believe that being a prostitute in literature is one of the few roles that black women can hold.
One of the final portrayals of black women in literature, perhaps the most common, is the
image of the working woman (Purkayastha, 2011, p. 28), otherwise known as, the mammy.
The mammy figure can be seen in the well-known Aunt Jemima (Purkayastha, 2011, p. 26)
and is a faithful and dark foil to the white, fragile, dainty womanhood (Purkayastha, 2011, p.
26). The mammy figure is typically illustrated in the same way every time, as black, stout or
obese, nurturing, religious, kind, above all strong and capable- an all-embracing figure, she
herself needed or demanded little. Mammy is physically unattractive but bountiful
(Purkayastha, 2011, p. 26).
When black men are represented in literature, they are an antagonist, threat, or
impoverished. In some literature, none of the black men are portrayed as intellectuals who
pursue higher levels of education (Wyatt, 1988, p. 16). Or the black men are written to view
the lifestyle of the white man as a success (Wyatt, 1988, p. 5) and are often considered
powerless and meaningless in a predominantly white society (Wyatt, 1988). While in other
literature, black men are characterized as abusers, sexual users, alcoholics. Some also have
strong feelings of insecurities toward women (Wyatt, 1988. p. 48). These insecurities come
from the common jealousy black men feel towards black women because of their difficulties in
pursuing a valuable education and getting a dependable, healthy job.

There are many reasons for these negative images of black men and women in literature.
One of the most common is because these images are churned out by a dominant white culture
and imposed upon black men and women as a mark of their inferior social status (Purkayastha,
2011, p. 26), this is also done as an attempt by the white mainstream to define what it didnt
understand, and to keep from elevating the statue of African-American culture (Hayes, 2012).
Another popular thought as to why this negative image exists comes from the historical treatment
of black men and women, specifically, slavery. Black men and women have suffered from the
after-effects of slavery. These effects have caused authors to have stereotypical images of black
men and women (Wyatt, 1988, p. 66), in other words, the images of black men and women
often come from the roles that have traditionally been a part of them. These historical roles are
references when black women are put in the roles of either a prostitutes or mammy and when
black men are put in the roles of being uneducated and angry. The sexualized roles of black
women can also be related to historical roles; historical records indicated that the sexual
degradation of the black woman by both black and white men could be possible because the
conditions of poverty in the black community expose black women to the many dimensions of
sex at an early age which has freed her from repression and enabled her to accept sexual relations
with inhibition (Purkayastha, 2011, p. 30).
Literature that does not accurately identify black men and women leaves readers with a
negative impression of black men and women (Wyatt, 1988, p. 72). One way that authors can
actively work towards making this change is by portraying black fictional and nonfictional
characters in a more positive light or experiencing problems that are common today (Wyatt,
1988). Zora Neale Hurston is an example of an author who actively worked towards positively
identifying and illustrating blacks in literature. Hurston did this by rarely portraying blacks as
victims of the oppression and racist attitudes held by white society and instead represented
blacks as autonomous beings, proud of their folk culture (AALC, 2014). In doing this, Hurston
was refusing to view the black life as being impoverished (AALC, 2014). As an example, in two
of Hurstons most famous pieces, Jonahs Gourd Vine and Their Eyes Were Watching God, the
protagonists depict facets of black culture and the struggle to embrace these cultural values
within the context of white values (AALC, 2014). Hurston is a legendary example for current
authors in teaching them how to identify black men and women as enjoying their and living their
life to the fullest. Hurston also can teach current authors how to write about black men and
women in ways other than focusing on the everyday injustices blacks suffer because of racism
in American culture (AALC, 2014).
In conclusion, black men and women are often identified negatively in literature. This can
be done in many ways. This change can be made in many ways and needs to be made by both
black and white authors. Black authors can make this change by not only illustrating their
struggles but the diversity and richness of their existence from their own perspective
(Purkayastha, 2011, p. 31). Both black and white authors can make this change by using Zora
Neale Hurston as an example as loving celebrations of black life were Hurstons effective
political weapon, and a racial pride was one of her greatest gifts to American literature (AALC,
2014).

How are conflicts between black men and women represented and how are they
reconciled?
In literature, one of the most underrepresented groups of individuals is those of black
men and women. Not only are they underrepresented, but they are misrepresented. Gina Wyatt
writes in her masters thesis, The Portrayal of Black Men and Black Women in Selected Works of
Selected Black Authors (1988), that black men are typically illustrated to be uneducated, pimps,
criminals, and abusers (p. 3). While black women are portrayed as weak, prostitutes,
dependent upon the black male, housewives and pregnant (Wyatt, 1988, p. 3). There are thought
to be many reasons why black men and women are written in such negative lights, one of the
most prominent beings that the representations are believed to have been based upon personal
beliefs and experiences (Wyatt, 1988, p. 2). In the following, I will briefly discuss the portrayal
of black women and men and their interactions in literature.
Black women are represented in literature as a Mulatta, prostitute or mammy. The
Mulatta combined the physical characteristics of both races and the white race could take moral
satisfaction and cover their guilt by supposing that they were lightening up the African race
(Purkayastha, 2011, p. 29). In other literature, black women are portrayed as prostitutes, or
weak, uneducated sexual objects (Wyatt, 1988, p. 49). Additionally, these black women
prostitutes are having a sexual prowess, insatiable sexual hunger, libido and absence of
morality (Purkayastha, 2011, p. 27). When comparing the prostitute role of black women to that
of a white woman, the black woman is known within the confines of her own community a
freedom from sexist categories (Purkayastha, 2011, p. 26).
One of the final portrayals of black women in literature is the image of the working
woman (Purkayastha, 2011, p. 28), otherwise known as, the mammy. The mammy figure is a
faithful and dark foil to the white, fragile, dainty womanhood (Purkayastha, 2011, p. 26). The
mammy figure is typically illustrated in the same way every time, as black, stout or obese,
nurturing, religious, kind, above all strong and capable- an all-embracing figure, she herself
needed or demanded little. Mammy is physically unattractive but bountiful (Purkayastha, 2011,
p. 26). One reason why the mammy role is so popular is because nurturing and motherly
characteristics are thought to be a natural part of her, and not something she has developed as an
individual (Wyatt, 1988, p. 50). The mammy takes on many roles in both the household and the
fields and is rarely praised for her hard work (Wyatt, 1988). An example of the mammy role in
literature can be found in the novel, Native Son, by Richard Wright (1940). In the novel, the
mother of the main character, Bigger Thomas, was considered his provider and support system.
However, the mother was unsuccessful; Biggers actions make the readers feel that his mother has
failed in raising him, and Wright makes the readers feel that without Bigger, his mother would
not have made it. Additionally, Biggers mother barely has enough for herself and her children.
While these common roles, the Mulatta, prostitute, and mammy all seem like relatively
negative portrayals of black women in literature, it is also common that, contrary to black men,
black women have could pursue higher levels of education, resulting in the ability to obtain
better employment (Wyatt, 1988, p. 16). Because of this, it is common that black men are
illustrated as being jealous; Black men display their jealousy by viewing the achievements of a
black woman as interfering with their masculine role as head of the household. Their jealousy
manifests through their degradation of black women and their desire to maintain control (Wyatt,
1988, p. 18). Although black men are often seen as degrading to black women because of this
jealousy, the black female continuously supports the black male (Wyatt, 1988, p. 62).
Typically, black men are not represented in literature. However, when they are
represented, they are illustrated to be an antagonist, threat, impoverished, etc. In some literature,
none of the black men are portrayed as intellectuals who pursue higher levels of education
(Wyatt, 1988, p. 16). In literature that include both black and white men, the black men are
written to view the lifestyle of the white man as a success (Wyatt, 1988, p. 5) and are often
considered powerless and meaningless in a predominantly white society (Wyatt, 1988). While in
other literature, black men are characterized as abusers, sexual users, alcoholics. Some also
have strong feelings of insecurities toward women (Wyatt, 1988. p. 48).
As mentioned, a common conflict in literature between black men and women comes
from the black mens insecurities. These insecurities come from the common jealousy black men
feel towards black women because of their difficulties in pursuing a valuable education and
getting a dependable, healthy job. However, in many forms of literature, the black mens
jealousy tend to resort to physical and mental abuse (Wyatt, 1988, p. 35). Not only are the
individual portrayal of black men and women often negative, but so are the portrayal of their
interactions. Another popular conflict between black men and women that are found in literature
is that of black women consistently needing to sexually satisfy black men. This is degrading to
both black men and black women. However, often the black men do not fault themselves for
gaining sexual pleasure from black women. When black men perform with black women
sexually, they believe they are giving women something they want (Wyatt, 1988, p. 52). This
conflict and many others are either resolved through physical and mental abuse or not resolved at
all (Wyatt, 1988).
Black men and black women are often portrayed negatively in literature. Additionally, the
interactions and conflicts of black men and women are also often worse that conflicts of white
men and women. These conflicts often end in physical or mental abuse or remain unresolved.
Although this is a real issue, some authors have already begun to make changes. Many black
women authors are not attempting to portray not only their complex struggles of black womens
existence but the diversity and richness of their existence from their own perspective. Here we
encounter black women who have come forward to shed light on their situations, to discover
their selfhoods and identities, to register and understand their growth, to examine their
relationship to men, children, society, history, and philosophy as she experienced it (Purkaystha,
2011, p. 31). However, it is not only important for black authors to make a change, it is important
for all authors to make a change. Wyatt (1988) writes, authors can benefit the image of black
society by portraying their characters in a more positive image. Authors could portray fictional
characters in problems that are common in a black society, instead of leaving readers with a
negative impression of black men and women at the end of a novel (p. 72).

What is the voice of the black female author?


The voice of the black female author is one that should be encouraged and respected.
However, historically, the voice of the black female author is one that has been belittled and
oppressed. Throughout the nineteenth century, the black female author has made attempts to
speak out against the hardships they experience every single day. The Hidden Voice: An
Examination of Female Black Authorship in the Nineteenth Century is (2014) is the title of
Steven Boyds master's thesis. In his thesis, he writes, black female writers advanced the cause
of social justice through empowerment prose and thoughtful dedication to addressing racial
issues in society (Boyd, 2014), coming from the rise in slave narratives. Boyd recounts the
writings of Phillis Wheatley, Mary Prince and Harriet Jacobs and how their voices were often
impacted by their editors. In the following, I will summarize Boyds writings on Wheatley,
Prince, and Jacobs followed up with an assessment and reflection on his thesis.
Phillis Wheatley was slave in America whose master found that she had a natural
inclination towards composition (Boyd, 2014). Her poems, appealing to the white audience,
present an innocent defense of a cruel profiteering system (Boyd, 2014), evoking empathy
from many of her readers. Wheatley did not introduce herself as African-American until her
poem To the University of Cambridge, in New England (Boyd, 2014). After this, she appealed
to readers who believed that black men and women were incapable of producing any form of
artistry, let alone poetry (Boyd, 2014).
Phillis Wheatleys editors allowed her to be a literary phenomenon but did not allow her
work to be taken seriously. In Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), the editor
includes a preface that begins with, The following poems were written originally for the
Amusement of the Author, as they were Products of her leisure Moments (p. I). The editor
suggests what types of reactions the readers should feel towards Wheatleys work and makes it
appears that Wheatleys literacy exists not to evoke stronger responses like sympathy, rapture,
or even thought-stimulation. Her work is to be treated simply as endowed musings from an
artistically inclined woman (Boyd, 2014). The editor appears as an advocate for black female
literacy, however, the editor ensures the audience does not read too much into Wheatleys
writing (Boyd, 2014). Additionally, the editor includes, by only what she was taught in the
Family, she, in sixteen Months Time from her Arrival, attained the English language, to which
she was an utter Stranger before, to such a Degree, as to read any, the most difficult Parts of the
Sacred Writings, to the greatest Astonishment of all who heard her (Poems on Various Subjects,
Religious and Moral, 1773, p. I, reminding the readers that black female literacy is entirely
unheard of (Boyd, 2014).
Mary Prince was a former slave whose autobiography, The History of Mary Prince,
was widely known throughout the United Kingdom. The History of Mary Prince is told in first
person, but was dictated through Prince to a white, abolitionist editor, Thomas Pringle (Boyd,
2014) and creates a pure image of unjustifiable evil on the slave system (Boyd, 2014). Per
Boyd (2014), Princes narrative makes no attempt to portray a moral gray area for slavery. Its
characters are archetypal and prevent the reader from having any sympathy for white slave
owners. The lack of sympathy reader felt while reading the narrative comes from the narrators
dramatic outbursts such as, but oh! twas light, light to the trials I have since endured!twas
nothingnothing to be mentioned with them (Prince, 1831, p. 232). In moments like these, there
is concern with promoting emotional responses from the reader over plot and structure (Boyd,
2014). Unlike Wheatleys editor, Pringle does not lessen the impact of the writing, instead,
Pringle takes strides to draw out emotionally evocative moments of sorry in Princes life so that
the reader may be more fully engrossed in its contents (Boyd, 2014).
In the narrative, there is no time given to speak on female-specific slave issues (Boyd,
2014), despite the amount of attention dedicated to addressing slaverys overall barbarism
(Boyd, 2014). This oddity can be blamed on the editor, Thomas Pringle as he asserts even at the
beginning of the narrative that, while Mary Princes story is worth reading, he ultimately wants
the white mans voice to be in control of this black females authorship (Boyd, 2014). The
introduction of Princes narrative includes an epigraph by the white abolitionist, William Cowper
from his 1788 poem The Negros Complaint, Deem our nation brutes no longer/ Till some
reason ye shall find/ Worthier of regard and stronger/ Than the colour of our kind. Pringle did
not even give Prince control over what the introduction of her narrative would look like;
although Thomas Pringle takes up the noble mission to inform readers on the massive injustice
slavery inflicts on its victims, he seems hesitant to allow the female black author while freed
to escape patriarchal control (Boyd, 2014).
In 1861, Harriet Jacobs, who wrote under the name Linda Brent, created the narrative
titled, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Unlike Wheatley and Prince, Jacobss narrative was
edited by a female, Lydia Maria Child. Because the narrative was edited by a female, there was
less censorship and more freedom to express true emotion. Jacobs wanted to stand before her
audience as a new voice in black literature and as the female slave who will not sit by and allow
female readers to absorb the over-dramatized narratives that leave the womens experience
untouched (Boyd, 2014). In the narrative, Jacobs does not want to present the black female
experience as a sequence of brutal physical punishments that can only be experienced by a
fellow black person (Boyd, 2014) she intends to maintain a universal theme of motherhood to
evoke social progressivism for women black writers (Boyd, 2014) and surpass racial
boundaries. Jacobs works towards suppressing racial boundaries by positioning the roles and
responsibilities of motherhood above the prejudices against black women (Boyd, 2014).
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl takes on portraying the overlooked incidents in a
slave girls life: incidents that serve to inform the reader of the depth of extensive brutality in the
slave system unique to women, and to evoke sympathy from females around the country and
motivate them to act on female slaves behalf (Boyd, 2014). This is accomplished in Jacobs'
attempts to invoke her audience, O, you happy free women, contrast your New Years day with
that of the poor bond-women! With you, it is a pleasant season, and the light of the day is
blessed. Friendly wishes meet you everywhere and gifts are showered upon you Children
bring their little offerings and raise their rosy lips for a caress. They are your own, and no hand
but that of death can take them from you (Jacobs, 1861, p. 424). Jacobs interrupts her narrative
with a reminder of its social importance and to attack the reader. Jacobs makes readers uneasy as
they put themselves in Jacobss shoes, realizing the disturbing thought that black women must
cope with losing their children to the slave trader (Boyd, 2014). Additionally, the narrative
works to illustrate the face that black literary representation cannot operate solely to represent
the slave experience and is deprived of any connections to the white experience (Boyd, 2014).
Jacobs aims for her female readers to discard prior assumptions about their distance from slave
narratives (Boyd, 2014) by working to assure white readers that just because they are white, it
does not mean they can never feel the oppression that slaves feel.
In Steven Boyds 2014 masters thesis titled, The Hidden Voice: An Examination of
Female Black Authorship in the Nineteenth Century, Boyd works to explains how a black female
authors voice can be manipulated when controlled by editors with ideological motivations. The
Hidden Voices main idea is to explain how the relationship between the black female author
and white male editor, even when well-intentioned, is fraught with tension. However, the
dissonance between the male editors priority to sell a patriarchal abolitionist story and the
authors message of personal tragedy could resolve when the slave herself takes up the pen with
a female editor (Boyd, 2014). This main idea is well supported by recounting the life of Phillis
Wheatley and Harriet Jacobs. Boyd compares Wheatleys experience with a male editor to
Jacobss experience with a female editor. In making this comparison, readers are truly able to
understand how oppressed the black female authors voice is when her work is edited by a male,
versus how much freedom the black female author has when her work is edited by a female.
Boyd also spends much of his time writing about Princes experience with a male editor.
However, in the section about Prince, there is little talk about the changes her editor made.
Instead, Boyd seems to analyze many parts of Princes narrative, making few connections to how
her editor influenced her work. Overall, Boyd wrote a highly informative piece about the voice
of the black female author in the nineteenth century.
To anyone who reads Boyds thesis, they may feel alarmed by how oppressed and
censored the voice of the black female author was in the nineteenth century. To comfort them,
Boyd explains that towards the end of the nineteenth century, there is a great increase in
abolitionist editors and publishers who allow more black female voices to rise and capture both
Englands and Americas attention (Boyd, 2014). While this may be comforting, it feels less
comforting to when you look deeper in the current voices of black female authors.
Boyd (2014) writes, if any reader is to feel a desire to act on behalf of slaves, he or
she has to understand that the pain behind the slave experience is universal. It is not a salvation,
as Phillis Wheatley might phrase it. It is not a sensationalized storybook as Princes editor,
Thomas Pringle, might have a reader believe. It is a catalog of gross, inhumane, but deeply
personal misfortune that taps at the very heart of men and women. This, in so many words, still
hold true today. The personal tragedies that many black female authors choose to write about are
not meant to be a salvation or storybook (Boyd, 2014). Theyre a collection of inhumane and
personal misfortunes (Boyd, 2014) true to the writers and meant to evoke emotion, sympathy,
and empathy from the readers. Additionally, if a personal writing from black female authors
today make a reader feel they need to work towards becoming an activist, the reader needs to
understand that the pain and oppression that many black female authors still feel today is
universal (Boyd, 2014). There are millions of black men, women, and children who still
experience the same mistreatment and oppression that most did in the nineteenth century. It isnt
just the black female author that provoked the emotion that needs an activist, its a whole
population of people who need activists.
Boyd (2014) also writes, Female black literature adopted the duty to alert society of
slaverys injustices and make them universally known so no man or woman in good conscious
could justify them any longer. This still holds true today, except society doesnt need to be
alerted of slaverys injustices, society needs to be alerted of racial injustices. Slavery is no longer
an issue; however, racial injustice is. Today, black female authors, and all authors can write about
and teach people about the current injustices. The more that all authors, especially those of
color, write about the injustices they experience on a regular basis, the more that readers will
become aware of it and will no longer feel comfortable justifying it any longer.

What are the issues of black sexuality in literature?


The book, Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual African American
Fiction edited by Devon W. Carbado, Dwight A. McBride, and Donald Wise in 2011 aims to
showcase the African American lesbian, gay and bisexual literary tradition in a way that affirms
rather than negates the interconnections among race, gender and sexuality (Carbado et al., 2011,
p. 12). Black Like Us is organized into three sections, corresponding to three historical periods:
The Harlem Renaissance, 1900-1950; The Protest Era, 1950-1980; and Coming Out Black, Like
Us, 1980-2000 (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 15) and strongly argues that like gender and race,
sexuality matters. In the following, I will be using captioned images to summarize the main
points of each of the three sections of Black Like Us, and then I will assess and reflect on my
findings.
Throughout the Harlem Renaissance, the published African American lesbian, gay and
bisexual fiction would express conflict over how blacks might best represent their dark-skinned
selves- both to other blacks as well as the world at large (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 21). During
the Renaissance, black civil right activists and movements existed, it did not include sexual
orientation even though one would presume that black lesbians, black gay men, and black
bisexuals had been involved in the American social protest struggle as long as blacks had
participated in such movements (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 31). However, social minorities at the
time had been silenced by embarrassment, by fear of criminal retribution, and, importantly, a
lack of understanding of the inherently political nature of sexual identity (Carbado et al., 2011,
p. 31). Even queer writers, such as Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Wallace Thurman
made efforts to keep their sexuality out of their work and out of the disapproving public eye.
However, homosexuality was not invisible and did, in fact, appear in literature at the time but it
only was recognized in the context of illegal activities (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 31), such as in
the case of Oscar Wilde. The Wilde scandal encouraged American literature from male
homosexuals to emerge and by the 1930s, considerations of gender assumption had begun to be
incorporated (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 40) into black men and womens writings. During this
time of antihomosexual repression, lesbian women and gay men produced many homosexual-
themed works that challenged sexual convention with forthright depictions of homosexuality
(Carbado et al., 2011, p. 47).
In 1903, DuBois "was prescient in foretelling the significance of this period in terms of
art, culture, and politics (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 21) through his essay, The Talented Tenth.
DuBois challenged the idea that a privileged minority of intellectuals could, or should, represent
African American en masse (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 22). In 1920, DuBois created the New
Negro that challenged "racial stereotypes that have suppressed blacks for centuries (Carbado et
al., 2011, p. 21). The New Negro would create issues of race and class that were further
complicated by considerations of sexuality and gender, though seldom were sexual topics raised
as a legitimate point of debate (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 22).
In 1898, Oscar Wilde was sentenced for violating Englands law that had recently added
oral sex to the list of homosexual offenses punishable by incarceration (Carbado et al., 2011, p.
32). Wildes scandal cautioned, if not further suppressing overt expressions of homosexuality
(Carbado et al., 2011, p. 32), yet was sensational. The tragedys impact reached so far and was so
prominent that renderings of male homosexuality in American fiction began quietly to emerge
(Carbado et al., 2011, p. 33).
The first-known piece of homosexual literature published by an African American was
Smoke, Lilies, and Jade, written by Richard Bruce Nugent in 1926. Nugents piece expressed the
desire for same-sex relations, which soon became a controversial theme for black writers to
address (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 23).
During the renaissance, lesbianism rarely made appearances in literature, however, Alice
Dunbar-Nelson managed to write about lesbianism in more discreet outlets (Carbado et al.,
2011, p. 42). Dunbar-Nelson was an elder poet, and an activist in the Black Womens Club
movement who published her first book with discreet mentions of lesbianism, Violets and Other
Tales in 1895 (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 42).
By the 1930s, gender assumptions and expectations had been found in the writing of
black women, however, Angelina Weld Grimke had been writing woman-identified (Carbado
et al., 2011, p. 41) literature since the twentieth century. Grimke produced works that infused
the family tradition of racial uplift ideology with radical social protest propaganda (Carbado et
al., 2011, p. 41). Grimkes is most well-known for her piece titled, Rachel (1916), which was
the first African-American work to be performed by an all-black cast of actors for white
audiences (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 41).
Halls, The Well of Loneliness, published in 1928, was a plea for social tolerance of
homosexuals (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 43) and one of the most influential pieces of literature at
the time. Halls piece became a touchstone for women writers of all sexual orientations for
generations to come (Carbado et a., 2011, p. 43).
The years after the war and Renaissance, referred to as The Protest Era, marked the
beginnings of an era of activism that would irrevocably shape black lesbian and gay writing and
thought (Carbado et al., 2011, p, 58) as homosexuality proved to be equally as controversial as
white, gender politics. Although the activism of black homosexuality was prevalent, the issues
of sexual identity complicated relations within the emerging Womens Movement (Carbado et
al., 2011, p. 154) thus, black feminists looked to black women writers for political leadership
(Carbado et al., 2011, p.159) and nonconformity assumed greater diversity in the writings of
gay men of color (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 177). Black feminists were activists that fought for a
departure not only from traditional white feminism but also from a lesbian feminism that
advocated dyke separatism from the womens and gay male movements (Carbado et al., 2011,
p. 159). The 1960s were a time of activism and change, and because of the cultural climate
lesbian and gay fiction grew significantly (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 13), so much so that stories
featuring overt homosexuality were found in mainstream outlets, such as drugstores and
newsstands (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 168). While The Protest Era may seem like a success for
emerging homosexuals, life for homosexuals at the time can best be characterized as a series of
ongoing attacks on suspicions, which quite literally equated homosexuality with criminality and
psychological disorders (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 173).
Millets, Sexual Politics (1970) pushed the homosexuality movement toward a more
fundamental understanding of the political nature of sexual relations between man and woman
(Carbado et al., 2011, p. 156). Millet claimed that the masculine and feminine traits cannot
be attributed to human nature (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 157) and the enormous area of our lives,
labeled sexual behavior as almost entirely the product of learning (Carbado et al., 2001, p. 157).
Published in 1970, Bambaras, The Black Woman was the first collection of African
American feminist thought (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 159).
Shockley's, Loving Her (1974), was the first novel to feature a black lesbian protagonist.
Although Shockley did not label her own sexual orientation, her writing nevertheless
demonstrated a complex understanding of race, gender, and sexual orientation seldom found in
African American literature or lesbian fiction up to the 1970s (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 169).
Dodsons, Boy at the Window (1951) was the first gay-themed novel published by an
African-American homosexual in the 1950s and was the first gay-oriented novel published by an
African-American homosexual since 1932. Although its gay subject matter is largely confined
to cautious renderings of sexual exploration, the novel subtly depicts what Dodsons biographer
called a stunted and guilty homosexuality (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 175).
Ginsberg, author of Howl and Other Poems (1956) created a poetic tribute to gay sex
(Carbado et al., 2011, p. 176) which soon fell into the eye of public controversy. Because of this,
Howl was seized by police on the grounds of indecency in 1957 (Carbado et al., 2011, p.
176).
The first black, queer writer who turned to the science fiction and fantasy genre
(Carbado et al., 2011, p. 177) was Samuel R. Delany. His first published novel, The Jewels of
Aptor (1961), foreshadowed more complicated renderings of sexuality (Carbado et al., 2011, p.
177) and used creative depictions of outcast protagonists who exceeded the standard gender
expectations (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 177).
After The Protest Era, Black Like Us moves on to 1980-2000, calling it Coming Out
Black, Like Us (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 13). Black homosexuals began the new era with an
unfinished agenda, an agenda that challenged the ways in which Americans viewed black
homosexuality, as much as it revealed the ways in which black homosexuals viewed themselves
and each other (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 332). For black, gay, male writers of the time, the
debates over sex practices were clouded by the devastation of the AIDS epidemic (Carbado et
al., 2011, p. 350), almost putting the progression of black homosexual literature on hold. Black
feminists made movements that aimed to be more responsive to the experiences and needs of
black women, including black lesbians. Black feminists wanted to push to make feminism more
inclusive to all women, instead of middle-to-upper class white women, by directing their protests
to not only black antiracism; they targeted feminism as well, pushing feminists to articulate a
conception of womens equality that was more all-encompassing in terms of race, sexual
orientation, and class (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 342). Lesbian literature, at the time, expanded
and began to address issues such as adolescent sexuality and domestic abuse. As these and other
unconventional themes began to appear more frequently in black lesbian and bisexual writings of
the 1990s, authors no longer felt required to feature same-sex desire for their work to be read as a
lesbian novel (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 347). At the end of the 1990s, there was a random
increase in writing from African American gay men (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 357). This was
because African American gay men had established a literary tradition that mainstreamed the
experiences of at least some black gays (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 357), making their writings
reach a wider audience.
Alice Walker was the first woman author to expand the idea of feminism to include
women of color, and women who both sexually and nonsexually love other women. Walkers
Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple (1982), as well as The Temple of My Familiar
(1989) and Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992) have become womanist classics for their
politicized representations of female sexuality, and for the inclusion of bisexuality and
lesbianism (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 342).
Jordan considered herself as being sexually plural and belonging to a broader, black
queer sexual politics (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 346). This was evident in her work at the time,
such as On Bisexuality and Cultural Pluralism (1995). Although Jordan was in the minority of
black queer writers, the barrier-breaking nature of her fiction nevertheless affirms the reality of
alternative lesbian sex (Carbado et al., 2011, 345).
The redefinition of black lesbian fiction was part of a broader redefinition of lesbian
writing, as Dorothy Allisons Bastard Out of Carolina (1993) can attest (Carbado et al., 2011, p.
347). Allisons work showed trends in the homosexual communities, such as transgenderism, and
other nonlesbian queer identities (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 347).
At the time, most Americans still had not come to terms with the AIDS epidemic among
homosexual men, particularly African American men. Joseph Beam launched the first post-
Stonewall movement of openly gay work by black men (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 351) by
writing, In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology in 1986. Beams anthology offered both an early
representation of AIDS from a black, gay perspective and a candid view on homophobia in the
African American community (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 351).
Dixons 1991 novel titled, Vanishing Rooms, illustrated how racial insensitivity, or at
least a lack of racial understanding, can manifest itself even in the context of a loving
relationship between a black man and a white man (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 353).
One of the boldest pieces of literature to come out was Riggs, Tongues Untied (1989),
which included performance and poetry in the setting of social prejudice at the time. Tongues
Untied affirms the diversity of black, gay identity in celebratory, often sexually explicit terms
(Carbado et al., 2011, p. 355). Not only did Tongues Untied inspire more gay art, but it also
caught so much backlash that right-wing readers denounced the film as pornographic (Carbado
et al., 2011, p. 356). Despite this, Riggs continued his exploration of gay themes in films until
his death from AIDS complications (Carbado et al., 2011, p. 356).
Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual African Americans in Fiction
gives a deep analysis and explanation of the development of black homosexual literature and
provides readers with numerous examples of literature and writers that support and exhibit the
life of black homosexuals in its corresponding era. Black Like Us does an exceptional job in
informing the readers of the ever-changing life of black homosexuals and their illustrations in
literature and providing evidence to back up every claim made.
One of the overarching themes in Black Like Us is how there has been a lack of
representation of black homosexuals in literature aging back to the Harlem Renaissance, and
lasting until the current eras. This is the biggest issue of black homosexuality in literature, the
lack of it. Historically, it has always appeared to be the duty of black homosexual writer to
inform society of their lifestyle to try and normalize it. Unfortunately, this is still the case. Black
Like Us makes readers feel that black homosexual representation in literature has improved,
however it is still as underrepresented as ever. It should not fall on black homosexuals to create
literature that exposes people to their lifestyle. In attempting to bring up minority groups, it
should be the job of the society to use literature to inform themselves, acknowledge, and
appreciate minority groups, especially that of black homosexuals. The more that black
homosexuality is normal and often represented in literature, the less they will be a minority
group.

How is homosexuality imagined?


In the journal titled, Health Anthology Newsletter Towson State University, David Bergman
published an article titled, The Gay and Lesbian Presence in American Literature (2012) which
suggests that homosexuality is the last great taboo of American society and encourages
educators to explicitly teach literature written by homosexual authors to make homosexuality
less uncomfortable topic for many students. In the following, I will summarize Bergmans
methods for teaching homosexual literature and how homosexuality is illustrated in literature,
and then will assess and reflect on his writing.
In The Gay and Lesbian Presence in American Literature (2012), Bergman explains that
there are many reasons that classroom discussions about homosexuality in literature should
happen, and one of the reasons why it doesnt happen is because teachers often feel
uncomfortable discussing sexual preference and/or students become uncomfortable when the
topic is raised (Bergman, 2012). However, when discussion on homosexuality do happen,
everyone seems to have an opinion and the variety of views and lack of consensus is both
marvelous to behold and troublesome to witness (Bergman, 2012). Bergman provides readers
with three rules to follow to avoid student opposition and generate open discussion (Bergman,
2012). The first rule is that discussion must arise from trying to understand the work before us.
It cannot be gratuitous (Bergman, 2012). This rule will immediately answer the important
questions: why does it matter is the author is homosexual? And what relevance does it have to
the work? In doing this, it keeps the work from being read only as an expression of a persons
sexuality (Bergman, 2012). Additionally, students will first become engaged in understanding
the text, which in turn will make them more willing to engage in learning and understanding how
sexuality influences the way we read a work and how sexuality affects the way the work is
constructed (Bergman, 2012). The second rule that Bergman suggest is to adopt an entirely
matter-of-fact tone (Bergman, 2012). In doing this, the students feel that they are mature
individuals that can discuss these matters openly, freely and thoughtfully while trying to
understand. Additionally, by linking discussion to a specific textual issue and by presenting an
example of matureness to students, the worst expressions of homophobia are usually excluded.
However, if homophobic comments do come up, Bergman suggest using them as a way of
voicing the cultural context in which lesbian and gay literature is situated (Bergman, 2012).
The last rule for avoiding resistance to lesbian and gay literature is to prepare for such a
discussion by speaking about heterosexuality (Bergman, 2012). If general sexuality in literature
is a topic that has been discussed, then homosexuality in literature can become a logical
extension of the discussion. Bergman (2012) feels that sexual desire cant be merely a topic that
arises in lesbian and gay literature; we must make it a topic relevant to heterosexual material as
well. This is because students are often less sympathetic to heterosexual depictions of erotic
desire than they are to homosexual depictions (Bergman, 2012).
The second half of Bergmans, The Gay and Lesbian Presence in American Literature
(2012) touches on homosexuality in literature. Bergman suggests that homosexuality in poetry is
better than in prose. This is because poets have been and continue to be more up front about
sexual issues than prose writers (Bergman, 2012) while also because in poetry, homosexuality
can be read as merely a metaphor; in prose, it appears as pornographic (Bergman, 2012). The
differences in the depiction of homosexuality in poetry versus prose can determine how
comfortable and willing people will be to read and discuss it. While it is easier for some to read,
and discuss metaphorical homosexuality in literature, it is important that people learn to feel
comfortable discussing more explicit and marginalized homosexual literature (Bergman, 2012).
In doing this, people will become more willing to tolerate, read and discuss homosexuality in
literature.
The Gay and Lesbian Presence in American Literature aims to explain to readers how
they can approach the scary issue of reading and discussing homosexuality in literature by
following three simple rules, and explains how homosexuality is illustrated in poetry versus
prose. Bergman does an exceptional job informing readers of why homosexuality in literature is
hard to discuss, and how there are three rules that can make it easier. However, Bergman does a
less exceptional job explaining the depiction of homosexuality in literature. While Bergman
elaborates on how homosexuality is illustrated in poetry versus prose, he does not explain how
homosexuality is illustrated in other forms of literature. As an educator, Bergmans piece was
overall informative.
Reading Bergmans piece from the point of view of an educator, there were many
connections I could make. For example, Bergmans three simple rules to facilitate a safe
discussion about homosexuality in literature are something I, and other educators can take to
heart. Bergman does this by including facts such as, students are not used to hearing talk of
lesbians and gay men in the classroom, and teachers setting out to raise the topic had better be
prepared for the dead silence that initially awaits them (Bergman, 2012). Additionally, Bergman
provides an extensive list of notable, homosexual authors and their works that can be used in
discussion. Bergman also explicitly told readers how homosexuality is illustrated in poetry as
opposed to prose. Per Bergman, in poetry, homosexual writers are more upfront about their
sexuality, and the sexuality can be read in a metaphorical fashion (Bergman, 2012). While in
prose, homosexual writers are less upfront about their sexuality and when sexuality is discussed,
it is typically depicted in a pornographic fashion, making many readers uncomfortable
(Bergman, 2012). Overall, readers of Bergmans piece, The Gay and Lesbian Presence in
American Literature, can take away the depiction of homosexuality in literature, and the
importance of discussing it; myth, misinformation, and bigotry stand next to truth and insight,
expressed with equal intensity (Bergman, 2012).
How do race, gender and sexuality interact in African American literature?
Written in 1996 by Lola Young, Fear of the Dark: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the
Cinema aims to examine the conjunction of race, gender and sexuality in British films
(Young, 1996, p. 1). Fear of the Dark considers how race, gender, and sexuality are depicted in
film in various time periods, explains why that was the case, and provides numerous examples of
British film to support the findings. In the following, I will visually summarize the main points
of the book and will include examples of the films. I will then move on to assess and reflect on
my readings and findings.
Throughout history, black men and women have taken on many forms of the antagonist
in both film and literature. In some cases of carrying out work which involved representations
of black people, the analysis of images has a heightened political inflection, since representations
of black people are always deemed to mean something, or are symbolic in regards to race in a
racially sensitive society (Young, 1996, p. 5). Although in other cases, black people come to
embody the threat to the illusion of order and control and represent the opposite to the white
contrary (Young, 1996, p. 23). While both examples seem extreme, they were particularly
relevant to film in the early 1900s.
Song of Freedom labels class and racial divisions as fixed and immutable (Young,
1996, p. 59) while also sliding between an aggressive objectification of black subjects, marking
them as ignorant, primitive, an undifferentiated mass (Young, 1996, p. 41). This can be seen in
the Queen Zinga as she is played by a woman with a face fixed in a grimace, matted hair and an
oiled body indicating perpetual sweatiness (Young, 1996, p. 53). Additionally, the main
character, who is a white male, is represented as unified, which is the mirror-image of the black
Other (Young, 1996, p. 61). Although the black people were antagonists of the story, they posed
little threat because one way or another, they did not settle in or reproduce in Britain (Young,
1996, p. 62).
The depictions of gender in film and literature have also been negative, specifically, the
depiction of black women. Although black and white women are typically portrayed differently,
they are often characterized as being dependent on others, and as being defined only through
their oppositional relationship to white men (Young, 1996, p. 45). While black and white
women may be similar in their dependencies, white femininity is both foregrounded and
privileged in relation to black women (Young, 1996, p. 39). Comparing the portrayal of black
versus white women, the black women typically took on the role of a Mulatta or mammy (see,
depiction of black identity). While white womens faces and bodies are privileged signifiers of
female beauty and desire, in other words, representing the ideal feminism (Young, 1996, p. 12).
Historically, representation of black women in film and literature was scarce, this scarcity
would appear to be indicative of the lack of involvement of black women in the academy and the
priorities of those who do have a presence (Young, 1996, p. 16). Once film and literature began
to include more women, specifically black women, many black female writers began to feel
concerned about the image of black women living under both patriarchy and racism (Young,
1996, p. 9). The black women writers who spoke out about their portrayal in film and literature
only examined the issues in the form of a short, more journalistically orientated analysis as
opposed to sustained theoretical investigation (Young, 1996, p. 16). In Fear of the Dark, much
of the talk about gender representation was centered around women, specifically black women.
However, Young did mention a little bit about men. Young (1996) explains that most often in
film and literature, the testing of white masculinity was explicitly represented through combat
with the savage Other: more covertly, white masculinity was concerned with establishing white
male virility writing a heterosexual context (p. 49).
Playing Away is a lighthearted film that aims to include a critique of racism. For example,
the presence of black people in the country landscapes, temporarily incorporated into the village
life, begins to suggest the difficulties in thinking about national identity and Englishness and the
relationship to black people (Young, 1996, p. 121). Additionally, the attitudes of the black men
are foregrounded and elaborated (Young, 1996, p. 122). While, the black women are even less
developed than their white counterparts (Young, 1996, p. 122). This suggests that there is a
wide range of stereotypes to reference when illustrating white femininity, but few for black
female sexuality, which is a problem for black women as most of the dramas constructed by
male filmmakers concerning racial identity and differences are played out in robust
homosociality (Young, 1996, p. 122).
Alongside race and gender, Young explains the portrayal of interracial sex and the
sexuality of both black men and women. Many false portrayals of black inferiority, the
undesirability of mixing races, and black hypersexuality (Young, 1996, p. 34) led the negative
connotation of interracial relationships. Additionally, many black and white intellectuals and
authors felt that interracial sexual relations have been perceived as problematic (Young, 1996,
69). Refusing to write in interracial relations into literature and cinema is one of the
manifestations of a strategy of aversion (Young, 1996, p. 19). Even though interracial relations
seem like a taboo subject, it has been found in both historical and current literature and film. Per
Young (1996), there is a long history of interracial sexual relationships in what is almost always
represented as an all-white Elizabethan England (p. 33). On the contrary, interracial relations
can otherwise be found in sexual unions between white men and their black female slaves,
although many of the black women were not willing partners in these associations (Young,
1996, p. 35). Historically, films that made use of racial issues in their narratives seem to
promote a set of ideas which assume a consistent and uniform set of social expectations and
practices, in relation to beliefs, about racial and sexual difference (Young, 1996, p. 68). Because
of this, the extent to which film and literature created notions of black hypersexuality and its
concomitant threats to white sexual property, it became connected to conceptualizations of
female sexuality: most notably to that of deviants such as lesbians and lower class female
prostitutes (Young, 1996, p. 31). Additionally, the abnormal portrayal of black women that was
perceived as physical overdevelopment large buttocks, extended genitalia and pendulous
breasts (Young, 1996, p. 36). This abnormal and different anatomy of the black female created
the external stigma of a primitive sexuality which categorized African womens sexuality and
marked them as a potential sexual threat (Young, 1996, p. 36), while also making them appear
to stand for excessive sexuality.
There are many reasons to help explain why there has been such negative representations
of black people, women, etc. in film and literature. One reason comes from the relatively small
numbers of black people writing in the fields of cultural and film studies, especially women
(Young, 1996, p. 2). Talking and writing about racial issues had been a problem for people to
engage with until recently. Because of this, white academics and film scholars have only rarely
addressed the question of white racial identities and the relationship with gendered identities
(Young, 1996, p. 2).
Most negative portrayals of black men and women are written by someone of an
opposing race. However, there is the occasional black author who writes themselves into a
negative, or false, role. Young (1996) tells us that psychoanalysis, Frantz Fanon, determined that
one reason why black men and women are portrayed so negatively in film and literature comes
from feelings of inadequacy and inferiority to which blacks were prone (p. 17).
Another reason comes from the concept of Otherness (Young, 1996). Otherness is the
intolerable passions and inclinations to others that one is unable to accept in themselves. Thus,
one will deny their fears and disposition, by repressing them into the unconscious and projecting
the intolerable feelings on to the despised racial group (Young, 1996, p. 22). This can be the
reason that male authors often write female characters into a negative, degrading role.
Additionally, it can be the reason why authors of non-black descent so often write black men and
women into a negative, or false, role. It is inevitable that in cinema, the Otherness of black men
and women would become instrumental in the attempted demystification and control of black
people (Young, 1996, p. 37).
Sapphire was the only British film to touch on the idea of passing (Young, 1996, p. 70)
and aimed to show its audience that racial prejudice was useless and illogical. Young (1996)
describes the film as a perfect vehicle for a demonstration of superior (masculine) powers of
logic and deduction (Young, 1996, p. 73).
Originally a stage play called Hot Summer Night, Flame in the Streets touched on the
fear of interracial sexual relations, and the white womans sexual frustration (Young, 1996, p.
76). Additionally, the film expressed hopes and fears which do not solely refer to sexuality but
also relate to economic, employment and housing issues and consistently calls upon a reservoir
of attitudes and approaches to racial difference, which render the black people within the text as
powerless and subordinate to white people (Young, 1996, p. 77).
Written at the same time of prominent black immigration and controversy, Leo the Last
is a narrative told from the perspective of a white males dominating eye while also
problematizes whiteness (Young, 1996, p. 86). The film, however, is not concerned with the
emotional or political development of women in the text (Young, 1996, p. 93) as they are
illustrated as being unable to survive with the support of a man. Additionally, Leos house
symbolizes and embodies the detachment and parasitic nature of the social hierarchy and the
glorification of the dynastic principle (Young, 1996, p. 97).
Pressure was the first feature film written by a black person in Britain, the first film that
was black directed and funded by the British Film Institute, and the first film to show the anger
and frustration felt by young black men (Young, 1996, p. 99). The film explores many themes
significant for black people at the time such as, immigration, assimilation into British society,
and cultural identity (Young, 1996, p. 101). Additionally, Pressure represented the black female
in a way that intended to be a counterpoint to the stereotypical dysfunctional, acculturated black
family and implicit struggles with and against the idealized image of the patriarchal white
family (Young, 1996, p. 105).
Black Joy is about the hardships and hostility of the world for an urban black man. The
film attempts to depict the ordinariness of a group of working class black people living in
London. Although criminality is seen as an inevitable and essential component of the racialized
urban landscape, it is largely minor and to do with gambling, soft drugs, and prostitution
(Young, 1996, p. 112).
Mona Lisa illustrates the ways in which issues of race may be embedded in a text
without being made explicit through a strong black presence: one of the absorbing elements of
the film is that although it contains a multiplicity of images which refer obliquely to racial
differences, it continually refuses to engage with the racial issues raised (Young, 1996, p. 123-
124). Not only does the film have a pubescent female who is illustrated to appear as a sexual
threat, but blackness and sexuality is compared to animalism (Young, 1996, p. 127). The
comparison between black males and animals, gorillas in particular, is the link between the
animalistic images of the black people engaging in oral rather than normal sex, and sexual
deviancy and danger is embedded in the text and interwoven with the image of a voracious,
cannibalistic black woman (Young, 1996, p. 127).
Lola Youngs, Fear of the Dark: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Cinema discusses
multiple themes and issues in British film, recalls historical advancements in terms of race,
gender, and sexuality, explains how those changes and advancements can be observed in British
film, and provides examples of film that show the themes and changes. Young provides these
things in detail and with many supports. Overall, this was an exemplary piece about the
interactions of race, gender and sexuality in British film.
While Youngs, Fear of the Dark: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Cinema focused on
the interactions in British films, it can still be related back to the interactions of race, gender, and
sexuality in American literature. Young (1996) explains that class, gender, sexuality and racial
difference can be seen as part of a matrix of ideas in which the white, bourgeois male at the
center was perceived as the norm and thus left unexamined, which the identities of those seen as
Other were constantly interrogated, investigated and monitored (Young, 1996, p. 31). This
idea proposed by Young can be connected back to American literature. In American literature,
white males were most often portrayed in the center of literature and as the protagonist of the
story. For example, in To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson, a black man who stands falsely
accused of raping Mayella Ewell, is represented by Atticus Finch, a white man who agrees to
take his case while knowing Tom would not win. Here, Tom Robinson is the Other, being
interrogated, investigated and monitored (Young, 1996, p. 31), while Atticus Finch is the white
male that is at the center (Young, 1996, p. 31) of the story. Tom Robinson can also be an
example of Youngs (1996) point that representations of black people are always deemed to
mean something or are symbolic (p. 5). Tom Robinson is a popular, harmless man, which is
symbolic of the mockingbird.
According to Young (1996), white filmmakers need to be aware that avoiding issues of
white racial identities whilst focusing on- or ignoring- black people merely serves to confirm the
authority of white, masculine supremacy and allows the assumption of an all-serving, all-
knowing position (p. 136). While this quote from Young is about British filmmakers, it can also
connect back to American literature. If writers are avoiding issues of race or ignoring black
people, inclusion, and understanding of all races will fail to happen. Once there more literature
becomes available to readers that teach about all races, genders, and sexualities, will society
become more willing to practice accepting.
REFERENCES

[Department of Afro-American Research and Culture]. (2016, Aug. 8). Blaxploitation Clip: Leo
The Last. [Video File]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
[Department of Afro-American Research and Culture]. (2016, Nov. 17). Preview Clip: Flame in
the Streets. [Video File]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
[HD RETRO TRAILER]. (2015, Aug. 13). Mona Lisa (1986) Trailer. [Video File]. Retrieved
April 11, 2017.
[Michael and Stephanie Sandberg]. (2010, Oct. 18). Scarlet and Mammy. [Video File].
[Screenbound Pictures]. (2011, Mar. 29). Black Joy Trailer. [Video File]. Retrieved April 11,
2017.
[TheMercurian]. (2009, Aug. 16). Sapphire Directed by Basil Dearden. [Video File]. Retrieved
April 11, 2017.
Academy of American Poets. (N.D.). Allen Ginsberg. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Academy of American Poets. (N.D.). Phillis Wheatley - Poet. [Digital Image] Retrieved April 6,
2017.
Amazon. (N.D.). Afrekete: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Writing. [Digital Image]. Retrieved
April 10, 2017.
Amazon. (N.D.). Another Runner in the Night: Robert Granit. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April
10, 2017.
Amazon. (N.D.). Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism.
[Digital Image]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
Amazon. (N.D.). Does Your Mama Know?: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Coming Out Stories.
[Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Amazon. (N.D.). Extravagant Abjection: Blackness, Power, and Sexuality in the African
American Literary Imagination. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
Amazon. (N.D.). Gay Fictions: Wilde to Stonewall. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Amazon. (N.D.). One More River to Cross: Black & Gay in America. [Digital Image]. Retrieved
April 10, 2017.
Amazon. (N.D.). Quicksand. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Amazon. (N.D.). The Country of the Pointed Firs. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Amazon. (N.D.). The Outing (A Vintage Story). [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Amazon. (N.D.). The Safe Sea of Women: Lesbian Fiction 1969-1989. [Digital Image].
Retrieved April 10, 2017.
America's Library. (N.D.). Phillis Wheatley, the First African American Published Book of
Poetry. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
Arthur Ashe Learning Center (AALC). (2014, February 13). Zora Neale Hurston: A Female
Perspective on Voice and Identity in Black Folk and Literary Culture. Retrieved on April 2,
2017.
Audio Books. (N.D.). Listen to Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. [Digital Image]. Retrieved
April 10, 2017.
Barnard Collection. (2012, Dec. 17). Archaeology of a Classic: Celebrating Zora Neale Hurston.
[Digital Image]. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
Bergman, D. (2012). The Gay and Lesbian Presence in American Literature. Health Anthology
Newsletter Towson State Univeristy. Retrieved on April 10, 2017.
Black Past. (N.D.). Grimke, Angelina Weld (1880-1958). [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10,
2017.
Boyd, S. (2014). The Hidden Voice: An Examination of Female Black Authorship in the
Nineteenth Century (Master's thesis, University of Maryland, 2014). Baltimore: The Paper Shell
Review.
Broadview Press. (2010, Sept. 20). Bertram Copes Year. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10,
2017.
Brother Peace Maker. (2010, July 15). The Color Purple, Black and Blue. [Digital Image].
Retrieved April 6, 2017.
BrownGirl Speaks. (2010, Feb. 22). Classics Circuit Harlem Renaissance: There Is Confusion by
Jessie Faucet. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Carbado, D. W., McBride, D. A., & Weise, D. (Eds.). (2011). Black Like Us: A Century of
Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual African American Fiction (2nd Edition). Berkeley, CA: Cleis Press
Inc.
Deep Forest Production. (2014, Oct. 5). Banned Book Awareness. [Digital Image]. Retrieved
April 6, 2017.
Deep South Magazine. (2013, Feb. 11). Alice Walker Through the Years. [Digital Image].
Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Emory Magazine. (Spring 2008). Rewriting Life. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. (2013). Hall of Fame Honoree: Toni Cade Bambara. [Digital
Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). A Lesson Before Dying. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). Beloved. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). Black Lesbian in White America by Anita Cornwell. [Digital Image].
Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). Cast the First Stone by Chester Himes. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10,
2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan. [Digital Image]. Retrieved
April 10, 2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). Jonah's Gourd Vine. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). Loving Her. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). Native Son by Richard Wright. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). Sugar by Bernice L. McFadden. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April
10, 2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). The History of Mary Prince. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
Goodreads. (N.D.). Too Heavy A Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength. [Digital
Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Grove Atlantic (N.D.). Faggots by Larry Kramer. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Hayes, M., C. (2012, October 12). Racial Identity in Art: The Black Aesthetic. [Web Log Post].
Retrieved April 6, 2017.
IMDB. (N.D.). Black Joy. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
IMDB. (N.D.). Flame in the Streets. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
IMDB. (N.D.). Leo the Last. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
IMDB. (N.D.). Mona Lisa. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
IMDB. (N.D.). Playing Away. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
IMDB. (N.D.). Pressure (1974). [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
IMDB. (N.D.). Sapphire. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
Kalamu ys Salaam. (2012, Mar. 21). Culture: June Jordan and a Black Feminist Poetics of
Architecture. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Leonardo, Z. (2004). The Color of Supremacy: Beyond the Discourse of White Privilege.
Educational Philosophy and Theory, 36:2, p. 137-152. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
Library Thing. (N.D.). Color of Trees by Canaan Parker. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10,
2017.
Lybrary. (N.D.). The Beast in the Jungle. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Nolan, H. (2008, June 25). Just How Racist Was Aunt Jemima? [Digital Image]. Retrieved April
5, 2017.
Open Library. (N.D). Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. [Digital Image].
Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Pinterest. (N.D.). 17 Best Images About Antique Fairy Tales. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10,
2017.
Pinterest. (N.D.). Owen Dodson, 1942. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Prince, Mary. (1831). The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave. Westley & Davis:
London, United Kingdom.
Purkayastha, M. (2011). Race, Identity and Stereotype: Images of African-American Women in
Literature. Journal of Womens Studies, vol. III, pp. 26-40. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
Purkayastha, M. (2011). Race, Identity and Stereotype: Images of African-American Women in
Literature. Journal of Womens Studies, vol. III, pp. 26-40. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
Slavery and the Abolition Movement. (N.D.). Harriet Jacobs. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 6,
2017.
TCJWW. (2015, Feb. 25). Intersectionality as the Feminist Aesthetic in Audre Lordes The Black
Unicorn: Poems. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
The Abolition of Slavery Project. (2009). Mary Prince (1788-1833). [Digital Image]. Retrieved
April 9, 2017.
The Art of Manliness. (2011, Feb. 2). Life Lessons from Atticus Finch. [Digital Image].
Retrieved April 6, 2017.
The Nation. (2015 Aug. 24). Samuel R. Delany Speaks. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10,
2017.
The New Yorker. (N.D.). The Courthouse Ring. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
The Toast. (2016, May 5). Women Writers You Shoud Know: Alice Dunbar-Nelson. [Digital
Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Tiki Toki. (N.D.). Kate Millett. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Tower. (N.D.). Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
Tumblr. (2017, Feb. 3). Lesbian Poetry. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
University of California Press. (N.D.). Epistemology of the Closet. [Digital Image]. Retrieved
April 10, 2017.
Washington Blade. (2015, June 3). Beam Remembered in Us. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April
10, 2017.
Wheatley, P. (1773, June 12). Preface in Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Morals (p. I-
II). Boston, MA.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). A Raisin in the Sun. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). Edward Irenaeus Prime-Stevenson. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). Invisible Man. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). J. California Cooper. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). Lydia Maria Child. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). Marlon Riggs. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). Oscar Wilde. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). Radclyffe Hall. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). Richard Bruce Nugent. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). Song of Freedom. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). Thomas Pringle. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). W. E. B. DuBois. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Wikipedia. (N.D.). Walt Whitman. [Digital Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Wyatt, G. E. (1988). The Portrayal of Black Men and Women in Selected Works of Selected
Black Authors (Master's thesis, Atlanta University, 1988). Atlanta: ETD Collection for AUC
Robert W. Woodru Library.
Wyatt, G. E. (1988). The Portrayal of Black Men and Women in Selected Works of Selected
Black Authors (Master's thesis, Atlanta University, 1988). Atlanta: ETD Collection for AUC
Robert W. Woodru Library.
Young, L. (1996). Fear of the Dark: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Cinema. Routledge:
New York, NY.
Zocalo Poets. (2013, June 18). Melvin Dixon as a Poet: AIDS, Love, Community. [Digital
Image]. Retrieved April 10, 2017.