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Keywords

counter-futures, Jim Crow, racial passing, racial reassignment surgery, satire

Abstract

Racial passing, during the antebellum period, was a way in which African-American peoples sought to escape the throes of slavery and the physical and psychological abuse associated with the plantation tradition. In time, racial passing became a way of obtaining the social, economic, and political opportunities denied people of color in the discriminatory and racially-biased United States. This study, however, examines a specific form of racial passing--that of racial reassignment surgery--as explored in George Schuyler’s Black No More and Jess Row’s Your Face in Mine as a way to test the theory that assimilation and miscegenation would one day resolve the color line that had left generations of African-American peoples disenfranchised and dispossessed. At the same time, this study examines the Afrofuturist sensibilities in these two key works of the Harlem Renaissance era and present day to understand how such authors not only counter the troubling histories of their time but also propose counter-futures that would otherwise have been buried beneath the cultural oppression of Jim Crow and other more modern forms of racism.

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