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Implicating Whiteness: Black Arts Movement Poetry and the Attack on the White Ideal

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Abstract:

This paper is a literary analysis of the symbolism of whiteness in Black Arts Movement poetry. Several poets writing during this period—including, but not limited to, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, and Haki R. Madhubuti – present whiteness not as an symbol that represents the standard or norm of American identity, but as a symbol that carries what Nell Irvin Painter calls “the mark of guilty malfeasance,” the taint of racism and oppression of African American people in the United States since the arrival of enslaved Africans on North American soil. These poets, like other black artists during this period, attack whiteness as an American icon of political power and aesthetic beauty with a literary assault on the black imagination, often with violent imagery of war against white ethnics (Jewish, Italian, Irish) who represent white power institutions (crime underworld, police/army, politicians, etc.). This imagery, I contend, was not present as anti-white propaganda but as a propaganda for a positive image of African American history and culture in its rejection of Western (white) standards of culture and challenges to the dominant narrative(s) of United States history. The poems that will be examined in this abbreviated discussion include Amiri Baraka’s “Black Art”, Nikki Giovanni’s “The True Import of Present Dialogue: Black vs. Negro,” and Haki Madhubuti’s “a poem to complement other poems” to discuss both the portrayals of whiteness as a symbol of the failures of the America to meet the needs of African Americans and the poets’ call for black people to act against whiteness as their ideal of power and beauty.
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435731_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Davis, Markeysha. "Implicating Whiteness: Black Arts Movement Poetry and the Attack on the White Ideal" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435731_index.html>

APA Citation:

Davis, M. D. "Implicating Whiteness: Black Arts Movement Poetry and the Attack on the White Ideal" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435731_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: This paper is a literary analysis of the symbolism of whiteness in Black Arts Movement poetry. Several poets writing during this period—including, but not limited to, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, and Haki R. Madhubuti – present whiteness not as an symbol that represents the standard or norm of American identity, but as a symbol that carries what Nell Irvin Painter calls “the mark of guilty malfeasance,” the taint of racism and oppression of African American people in the United States since the arrival of enslaved Africans on North American soil. These poets, like other black artists during this period, attack whiteness as an American icon of political power and aesthetic beauty with a literary assault on the black imagination, often with violent imagery of war against white ethnics (Jewish, Italian, Irish) who represent white power institutions (crime underworld, police/army, politicians, etc.). This imagery, I contend, was not present as anti-white propaganda but as a propaganda for a positive image of African American history and culture in its rejection of Western (white) standards of culture and challenges to the dominant narrative(s) of United States history. The poems that will be examined in this abbreviated discussion include Amiri Baraka’s “Black Art”, Nikki Giovanni’s “The True Import of Present Dialogue: Black vs. Negro,” and Haki Madhubuti’s “a poem to complement other poems” to discuss both the portrayals of whiteness as a symbol of the failures of the America to meet the needs of African Americans and the poets’ call for black people to act against whiteness as their ideal of power and beauty.


Similar Titles:
Whiteness and the Black Body: Implications for Doing Philosophy in Black

Proposition 8: A Classic Case of White Racism or Black Homophobia? Black Visibility in the Mainstream Gay Rights Movement

White College Student Allies: Interracial Cooperation in a Black Power Based Movement.


 
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