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.