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Negritude and the Black Arts Movement

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1 Negritude and the Black Arts Movement

2 “Sellout” by LG Damas I feel ridiculous/ in their shoes/ their dinner jackets/ their starched shirts/ and detachable collars/ their monocles and/ their bowler hats ………………. I feel ridiculous/ among them/ like an accomplice/ among them/ like a pimp/ like a murderer among them/ my hands hideously red/ with the blood of their/ ci-vi-li-za-tion

3 Black Art Black Art and Black Aesthetics: Poesis as Politics
Points Does this poem conform to formal norms? Which ones? Where do you turn when you can’t get out of the Bubble? Viceral Disparity between Destruction Creation-Can destruction of an old world create a new one? How do we get to the ending? Larry Neal Defines the B.A.M. Project To align the projects of the black artist and political activist To fashion a collective goal: the destruction of double consciousness

4 Amiri Baraka (1934- ) born Leroi Jones Bohemian, Black Power Advocate, Communist
Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, poems, 1961 Blues People: Black People in White America, 1963 Dutchman and the Slavedrama, 1964 The system of Dante’s hell, novel, 1965 Home: Social Essays, 1965 A Black Mass (1966 Tales, 1967 Black Magic, poems, 1969 Four Black Revolutionary Plays, 1969 Slave Ship, 1970 It's Nation Time, poems, 1970 Raise Race Rays Raize: Essays Since 1965, 1971 Hard Facts, poems, 1975 The Motion of History and Other Plays, 1978 Poetry for the Advanced, 1979 reggae or not!, 1981 Daggers and Javelins: Essays , 1984 The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, 1984 The Music: Reflections on Jazz and Blues, 1987 Transbluesency: The Selected Poems of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, 1995 Wise, Why’s Y’s, essays, 1995 Funk Lore: New Poems, 1996. Somebody Blew Up America, 2001 The Book of Monk, 2005 Tales of the Out & the Gone, 2006 Billy Harper: Blueprints of Jazz, Volume 2, Audio CD, 2008 Ancient Music

5 Dutchman A Modern Myth of Black Assimilation
Major Themes Race and Racism: Assimilation, Self-hatred Violence and Cruelty: The violence of white oppression that murders blacks in a literal and figurative sense. Passivity: A by-product of assimilation that, for Baraka, makes a community stagnant, incapable of producing leaders or innovators. And yet, it is a passivity whose transgression results in self-destruction (perhaps of a positive variety, but more than likely not) Sexism: Emasculation, The Siren/Fury archetypal devouring female Allegory a subway “heaped in modern myth” Symbolic Associations and Locales The Story of Adam and Eve, The Flying Dutchman, Dutch Slave Ships, the subway or “flying underbelly of the city”

6 Tainted Forms of Expression
CLAY Are you angry about anything? Did I say something wrong? LULA Everything you say is wrong. [Mock smile] That's what makes you so attractive. Ha. In that funnybook jacket with all the buttons. [More animate, taking hold of his jacket] What've you got that jacket and tie on in all this heat for? And why're you wearing a jacket and tie like that? Did your people ever burn witches or start revolutions over the price of tea? Boy, those narrow-shoulder clothes come from a tradition you ought to feel oppressed by. A three-button suit. What right do you have to be wearing a three-button suit and striped tie? Your grandfather was a slave, he didn't go to Harvard. CLAY My grandfather was a night watchman. LULA And you went to a colored college where everybody thought they were Averell Harriman. CLAY All except me. LULA And who did you think you were? Who do you think you are now? CLAY [Laughs as if to make light of the whole trend of the conversation] Well, in college I thought I was Baudelaire. But I've slowed down since. LULA I bet you never once thought you were a black nigger. [Mock serious, then she howls with laughter. CLAY is stunned but after initial reaction, he quickly tries to appreciate the humor. LULA almost shrieks] A black Baudelaire. Talking Points: Costume Prescribed modes of revolt. Black Baudelaire: The Relationship Between the Black Artists of the 60s and Extant Poetic Forms Symbolism: Black Baudelaires and Black Niggers “I bet you never once thought you were a black nigger”.

7 “Cultural Strangulation” by Addison Gayle

8 Cultural Strangulation “There is no White aesthetic”
The Agenda: To Defend the Positing of a Black Aesthetic The Argument: The failure to recognize a separate black aesthetic is not only out of step with current leftist moves forward in the field of race relations, but is also the outgrowth of a failure to come to terms with what might constitute a White Aesthetic. This White Aesthetic is as older than the “race problem,” but its privileging of light over dark was mapped onto race relations. Given the legacy of racism in America and that Occidental aesthetic are tainted by racism, the black aesthetic must be defined oppositionally. This opposition can be embodied in the phrase “Black is Beautiful” a slogan during the Black Power Movement. Let us proposes Greece as the logical starting point, bearing in mind Will Durrant’s observation that “all of Western Civilization is but a footnote to Plato,” and take Plato as the first writer to attempt a systematic aesthetic [….] However, Plato defines beauty in ambiguous terms leaving the problem of more secular, circumscribred, secular definition to philosophers, poets, and critics […] these aestheticians have been white, there, it is not surprising that, symbolically and literally, the have defined beauty in terms of whiteness, How his He reworking Platon and Dubois

9 The Ironic and Oppositional Position of Black Aesthetics
Hence, in the American realm, the entire realm of aesthetics is poisoned by a racism that comes to the fore every time it evaluates an object of Black Art. And, the Black artist is forced into a corner. To answer to the demands of traditional aesthetics is to allow white critics to dictate the expression of Black experience (which can result in a re-instantiation of racism) Hence, the only option other than assimilation, calls for an iconoclastic set of principles embodied in the phrase “Black is Beautiful”

10 Exploding the Raisin A Cry for What Kind of Revolt-The Shuffle
LULA [Her voice takes on a different, more businesslike quality] I've heard enough. CLAY [Reaching for his books] I bet you have. I guess I better collect my stuff and get off this train. Looks like we won't be acting out that little pageant you outlined before. LULA No. We won't. You're right about that, at least. [She turns to look quickly around the rest of the car] All right! [The others respond] CLAY [Bending across the girl to retrieve his belongings] Sorry, baby, I don't think we could make it. [As he is bending over her, the girl brings up a small knife and plunges it into CLAY's chest. Twice. He slumps across her knees, his mouth working stupidly] LULA Sorry is right. [Turning to the others in the car who have already gotten up from their seats] Sorry is the rightest thing you've said. Get this man off me! Hurry, now! [ The others come and drag CLAY's body down the aisle] Open the door and throw his body out. They throw him off] And all of you get off at the next stop. LULA busies herself straightening her things. Getting everything in order. She takes out a notebook and makes a quick scribbling note. Drops it in her bag. The train apparently stops and all the others get off, leaving her alone in the coach. Very soon a young Negro of about twenty comes into the coach, with a couple of books under his arm. He sits a few seats in back of LULA. When he is seated she turns and gives him a long slow look. He looks up from his book and drops the book on his lap. Then an old Negro conductor comes into the car, doing a sort of restrained soft shoe, and half mumbling the words of some song. He looks at the young man, briefly, with a quick greeting] CONDUCTOR Hey, brother! YOUNG NEGRO Hey [The conductor continues down the aisle with his little dance and the mumbled song. LULA turns to stare at him and follows his movements down the aisle. The conductor tips his hat when he reaches her seat, and continues out the car] Curtain

11 the mastery of form Theoretical Approaches to Black Drama
The deformation of mastery The History of Black Drama consists of innovative (infinite?) deformative (nation based discursive strategies of masking and sounding) discursive strategies that are always mixtures of the mastery of form and the deformation of mastery Houston Bakeresque Needs malcolm needs signifying money

12 Acting Black and Double Consciousness You don’t know anything except what’s there for you to see.
CLAY [Pushing her against the seat] I'm not telling you again, Tallulah Bankhead! Luxury. In your face and your fingers. You telling me what I ought to do. [Sudden scream frightening the whole coach] Well, don't! Don't you tell me anything! If I'm a middle-class fake white man let me be. And let me be in the way I want. [Through his teeth] I'll rip your lousy breasts off! Let me be who I feel like being. Uncle Tom. Thomas. Whoever. It's none of your business. You don't know anything except what's there for you to see. An act. Lies. Device. Not the pure heart, the pumping black heart. You don't ever know that. And I sit here, in this buttoned-up suit, to keep myself from cutting all your throats. I mean wantonly. You great liberated whore! You fuck some black man, and right away you're an expert on black people. What a lotta shit that is. The only thing you know is that you come if he bangs you hard enough. And that's all. The belly rub? You wanted to do the belly rub? Shit, you don't even know how. You don't know how. That ol' dipty-dip shit you do, rolling your ass like an elephant. That's not my kind of belly rub. Belly rub is not Queens. Belly rub is dark places, with big hats and overcoats held up with one arm. Belly rub hates you. Old bald-headed four-eyed ofays popping their fingers and don't know yet what they're doing. They say, "I love Bessie Smith." And don't even understand that Bessie Smith is saying, "Kiss my ass, kiss my black unruly ass." Before love, suffering, desire, anything you can explain, she's saying, and very plainly, "Kiss my black ass." And if you don't know that, it's you that's doing the kissing. Charlie Parker? Charlie Parker. All the hip white boys scream for Bird. And Bird saying, "Up your ass, feebleminded ofay! Up your ass." And they sit there talking about the tortured genius of Charlie Parker. Bird would've played not a note of music if he just walked up to East Sixty-seventh Street and killed the first ten white people he saw. Not a note! And I'm the great would-be poet. Yes. That's right! Poet. Some kind of bastard literature all it needs is a simple knife thrust. Just let me bleed you, you loud whore, and one poem vanished. A whole people of neurotics, struggling to keep from being sane. And the only thing that would cure the neurosis would be your murder. Simple as that. I mean if I murdered you, then other white people would begin to understand me. You understand? No. I guess not. If Bessie Smith had killed some white people she wouldn't have needed that music. She could have talked very straight and plain about the world. No metaphors. No grunts. No wiggles in the dark of her soul. Just straight two and two are four. Money. Power. Luxury. Like that. All of them. Crazy niggers turning their backs on sanity. When all it needs is that simple act. Murder. Just murder! Would make us all sane. [Suddenly weary] Ahhh. Shit. But who needs it? I'd rather be a fool. Insane. Safe with my words, and no deaths, and clean, hard thoughts, urging me to new conquests. My people's madness. Hah! That's a laugh. My people. They don't need me to claim them. They got legs and arms of their own. Personal insanities. Mirrors. They don't need all those words. They don't need any defense. But listen, though, one more thing. And you tell this to your father, who's probably the kind of man who needs to know at once. So he can plan ahead. Tell him not to preach so much rationalism and cold logic to these niggers. Let them alone. Let them sing curses at you in code and see your filth as simple lack of style. Don't make the mistake, through some irresponsible surge of Christian charity, of talking too much about the advantages of Western rationalism, or the great intellectual legacy of the white man, or maybe they'll begin to listen. And then, maybe one day, you'll find they actually do understand exactly what you are talking about, all these fantasy people. All these blues people. And on that day, as sure as shit, when you really believe you can "accept" them into your fold, as half-white trusties late of the subject peoples. With no more blues, except the very old ones, and not a watermelon in sight, the great missionary heart will have triumphed, and all of those ex-coons will be stand-up Western men, with eyes for clean hard useful lives, sober, pious and sane, and they'll murder you. They'll murder you, and have very rational explanations. Very much like your own. They'll cut your throats, and drag you out to the edge of your cities so the flesh can fall away from your bones, in sanitary isolation. Talking Points: Intra-Group Knowledge in Cultural Production: Doubly Conscious Performing Acting vs. Being Black and the Problem of Performing for Two Audiences Artistic and Rational Revolution History of Struggle and the History of Black Cultural Production

13 Toasting Black Internationalism, Nationalism, Folklore, and the Signifying Monkey
Way down in the jungle deep, The bad ass lion stepped on the signifyin monkey's feet. The monkey said, "Muthafucka, can't you see? Why, you standin on my goddamn feet!" The lion said, "I ain't heard a word you said." Said, "If you say three more I'll be steppin on yo muthafuckin head!" Now, the monkey lived in the jungle in an old oak tree. Bullshittin the lion everyday of the week. Why, everyday before the sun go down, The lion would kick his all through the jungle town. But the monkey got wise and started usin his wit. Said, "I'm gon' put a stop to this ole ass kickin shit!" So he ran up on the lion the very next day. Said, "Oh Mr. lion, there's a big, bad muthafucka comin your way. And when you meet, it's gonna be a goddamn sin, And wherever you meet some ass is bound to bend." Said, "he's somebody that you don't know, He just broke a-loose from the Ringlin Brother's show." Said, "Baby, he talked about your people in a helluva way! He talked about your people till my hair turned gray! He said your daddy's a freak and your momma's a whore. Said he spotted you running through the jungle sellin asshole from door to door! Said your sister did the damndest trick. She got down so low and sucked a earthworm's dick. Said he spotted yo niece behind the tree, Screwin a muthafuckin flea! He said he saw yo aunt sittin on the fence Givin a goddamn zebra a french. Then he talked about yo mammy and yo sister Lou, Then he start talkin about how good yo grandmaw screw.

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