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.LeeGreene.)37A final point of general comparison among Dunbar-Nelson, Grimk,and Georgia Douglas Johnson is that no biography or literary criticism ofany length or definitive significance has been written about them.Theydesperately need and deserve long overdue scholarly attention.Anotherrelated, unfortunate similarity is that too much of what they wrote is noteasily and generally available because it either is out-of-print or was neverpublished.Assessing them accurately requires one to consider both theirpublished and unpublished writings, taking care to distinguish, especiallywhen it is crucial, between them.It is hoped that, in the not-too-distantfuture, new editions and anthologies will present them in a freshly alteredand fuller light.Color defined the Harlem Renaissance.Philosophically and practically,it was a racial movement whose overriding preoccupation can be seen in all 81Color, Sex, and Poetry in the Harlem Renaissanceof its aspects and manifestations the name of the era (where Harlem issynonymous with black), its debates and manifestos (Locke s  The NewNegro and Hughes s  The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain ), booktitles (Georgia Johnson s Bronze, Cullen s Color, The Ballad of the Brown Girl,and Copper Sun), artistic illustrations (the African motifs of Aaron Douglasand Gwendolyn Bennett), and so on.Indeed, during the 1920s, AliceDunbar-Nelson, Angelina Grimk, and Georgia Douglas Johnson wereparticipating in a literary movement that was, by self-definition, raceoriented.How they were affected by this general reality emerged from theirown specific realities as black women.Racial attitudes of the larger society,Harlem Renaissance dictates, and personal experience all combined todetermine the handling of color in their writings.Reflecting their nearness to the miscegenation of slavery, these threewomen were visibly mixed blooded.Grimk was a light brown quadroon,whose mother was white and father mulatto; Johnson herself said that shewas born  a little yellow girl ; and Dunbar-Nelson could pass for white whenshe chose to.The Harlem Renaissance was preoccupied with the array ofAfro-American skin tones, ranging across (in Claude McKay s catalogue) chocolate, chestnut, coffee, ebony, cream, [and] yellow. 38 This rainbowbegan to be celebrated in art, even if the entire spectrum was still not aswidely accepted in real life, where the same old light-minded hierarchyoperated.Of course, the matter of color has always had a heavier impact onblack women.Like McKay, men rhapsodized about their teasing browns,chocolate-to-the-bones, and lemon yellows, but many still preferred tomarry the paler shades.Deep historical links between fair color and beauty,and fair color and class affiliation, are not easily broken.Even during this natural period that glorified blackness and exploited primitivism, the stageshow chorines were creams and high browns (which was apparently what thepromoters and public accepted), and Wallace Thurman, tortured himself byhis own black skin, could relevantly present the agony of a self-hating darkheroine in his 1929 novel, The Blacker the Berry.Though not of the  tragic mulatto variety, these three women writerssituations came from ambivalences different from but no less complicatedthan those of Thurman s Emma Lou.The roots of their color complexes andpreoccupations can be traced to their personal history; the roots of theirracial consciousness to the combination of personal history and Americanracism.Grimk s attitudes seem to have been simpler and clearer than eitherDunbar-Nelson s or Johnson s.Growing up with liberal and politicallycommitted white and black people who though themselves privilegedactively strove for racial betterment, she understood well intra- and 82Akasha Gloria Hullinterracial prejudice.These sympathies she translated directly into herliterary work [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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