Divided Within Race:
Intra-racial Relations Amongst
African Americans
Kendrick T. Dunklin
Thesis

The readings studied illustrate class differences as
relations that divide many black Americans and
govern the way they treat each other:





2
socioeconomic status
family relationships
friendships
romances
professional lives
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Intra-racial Variances

“The black poor and the new black bourgeoisie are
inseparably bound by race, and agonizingly divided
by class. The black schism cannot be cavalierly
dismissed or ignored with simple pleas about “black
unity”. The problem goes much deeper and so must
possible strategies for change. It was so much
simpler when the crisis was in black and white.”

3
Dr. Earl Hutchinson, The Crisis in Black in Black (110)
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Intra-racial Variances

Some of the more explicit
dynamics that spaces partitions
amongst the African American
race :



The geographical background of
African Americans
The elite formation of social
organizations and their strict and
harsh guidelines
The inconsistencies of the color
complexity






4
4/13/2015
“The Wife of His Youth” (1899)
 Charles Chesnutt
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored
Man (1912)
 James Weldon Johnson
Passing (1929)
 Nella Larsen
The Living is Easy (1948)
 Dorothy West
Brothers and Keepers (1984)
 John Edgar Wideman
“The Gangsters” (2008)
 Colson Whitehead
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Historical Background

5
“If you do not lift them up, they will pull you down.
Education and work are the levers to uplift a people.
Work alone will not do it unless inspired by the right
ideals and guided by intelligence. Education must
not simply teach work; it must teach Life. The
Talented Tenth of the Negro race must be made
leaders of thought and missionaries of culture among
their people. No others can do this work and Negro
colleges must train men for it. The Negro race, like
all other races, is going to be saved by its exceptional
men.”
 W.E.B. Du Bois, The Talented Tenth
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Objective



6
To Illustrate a strong ideal that
the complexities of the African
American race are beyond and far
deeper than the inter-racial
conflicts with the Caucasian race.
To depict a strong sense of the
intricacies that the African
American race possesses
internally.
To raise awareness of the divisive
issues, so that the problems
could, possibly, one day be
diminished.

4/13/2015
“From time immemorial race has
been so obsessive in black-white
relations, that class has been
badly ignored in black-black
relations. Black class divisions
have led to sometimes hidden,
sometimes explosive tensions
within and without black
communities”

Dr. Earl Hutchinson, The Crisis in
Black in Black (101)
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Geographical Location

The geographical location of African Americans
within the nation often causes intra-racial divides
within the black community.


Neighborhood separation plays an intricate role in the
division amongst African Americans.
Regional disconnection also showcases a complicated
position in the dissection between African Americans.


African American vacation spots add an unfamiliar, yet
profound position in the analysis of African American
intra-racial relations.

7
The Great Migration: 1916-1930
Martha’s Vineyard; Sag Harbor
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Geographical Location - Example



8
The role of neighborhood prejudice is captured
throughout Dorothy West’s novel, The Living is Easy.
The main character, Cleo, abuses and generates
disadvantages in the weak-minded to increase her
position in the social order.
She is focused on being in a certain location in the
novel, while at the same time trying to avoid her
Southern background.
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Geographical Location – Close Reading

“These ‘little knotty-head niggers’ made Cleo feel
that she was back in the Deep South. Their accents
prickled her scalp. Their raucous laughter soured the
sweet New England air. Their games were
reminiscent of all the whooping and hollering she
had indulged in before her emancipation. These
r’aring-tearing young ones had brought the folkways
of the South to the classrooms of the North.”

9
Dorothy West, The Living is Easy (5)
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Social Organizations

“There were those children who
belonged to Jack and Jill, and
summered in Sag Harbor; Highland
Beach; or Oak Bluffs, Martha’s
Vineyard; and there were those who
didn’t. There were those mothers
who graduated from Spelman or Fisk
and joined AKA, the Deltas, the
Links…and there were those who
didn’t. There were those fathers who
were dentists, lawyers, and
physicians from Howard or Merharry
and who were Alphas, Kappas, or
Omegas…and there were those who
weren’t.”

10



Lawrence Graham, Our Kind of People:
Inside America’s Black Upper Class (4)
4/13/2015
Fraternities & Sororities
 Alpha Kappa Alpha
 Kappa Alpha Psi
Historically Black Colleges
and Universities (HBCUs)
 Spelman College
 Tuskegee University
 Howard University
Social Clubs
 Jack & Jill of America
 The Links, Inc.
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Social Organizations – Example


The issues of the social organization realm are
displayed in Charles Chesnutt’s “The Wife of
His Youth”.
Mr. Ryder, the main character of the story, is
the Dean of the black upper-class Blue Vein
Society

11
A society of middle-class blacks who believed
lower class blacks were unworthy and illmannered
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Social Organizations – Close Reading

“It’s purpose was to establish and maintain correct
social standards…declared that character and culture
were the only things considered […] when critics had
succeeded in getting on the inside, they had been
heard to maintain with zeal and earnestness that the
society was…a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by
night, to guide their people through the social
wilderness.”

12
Charles Chesnutt, “The Wife of His Youth” (4)
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Color Complexity

“Skin color has always played an
important role in determining
one’s popularity, prestige, and
mobility within the black elite. It
is hard to find an upper-class
black American family that has
been well-to-do since before the
1950’s that has not endured family
conversations on the virtues of
‘good hair, sharp features, and a
nice complexion.”

13


Lawrence Graham, Our Kind of
People: Inside America’s Black Upper
Class (377)
4/13/2015
Underneath an exterior
manifestation of black harmony
lies an atmosphere of thoughts
about skin color and features in
which color, not temperament,
ascertains relationships and
manipulates achievement in the
professional world.
Light-Skinned African Americans
 Exploits skin color to gain
status above darker skinned
African Americans
 Exploits skin color as a way
of passing for white
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Color Complexity – Passing

Passing refers to an individual categorized by the general
public as being a constituent of the African American race
choosing to identify with the Caucasian race, generally by
appearance.



It creates psychological affects



14
African Americans pass to escape the harsh treatment of blacks by the
Caucasian race.
African Americans also pass to gain opportunities that they would not
be afforded to them if it were known they were actually black.
A Loss/Struggle with identity
A betrayal of cultural background
Escapism from social troubles
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Color Complexity – Example

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is
centered on the complex life of the nameless
narrator, The Ex-Colored Man, who does not
deliberately pass for a white man, yet many
people, especially whites maintain that he is a
white man.

15
The life that he has illustrated and the problems
he faces and observes play upon his mind
psychologically.
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Color Complexity – Close Reading

“I finally made up my mind that I would
neither disclaim the black race nor claim the
white race, but I would change my name, raise
a mustache, and let the world take me for
what it would; that it was not necessary for
me to go about with a label of inferiority
pasted across my forehead.”

16
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an ExColored Man (139)
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Conclusion

17
It is my attempt to elevate consciousness
among both African Americans and Caucasian
Americans about intra-racial variances
amongst the African American race, and to
raise awareness of how these issues remain
prevalent today.
4/13/2015
copyright 2006
www.brainybetty.com; All Rights
Reserved.
Download

Divided Within Race - The Life of KT Dunklin