Once You Go Black, by Reid-Pharr, Robert
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- ISBN: 9780814775844 | 0814775845
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 7/1/2007
Once You Go Black is first and foremost a study of a group of black American intellectuals, primarily male, who came to prominence after World War II. At the same time, it is an endeavor to reconsider black Americans as agents, and not simply products, of history. Following the existentialist maxim that experience precedes essence, Robert Reid-Pharr contends that our current notions of black American identity are not inevitable, nor have they been forced on the black community. Instead, he argues, black American intellectuals have actively chosen the identity schemes that seem to us so natural or "God-given" today. In Once You Go Black, Reid-Pharr turns first to the late and relatively unknown novels of the three most prominent Black American writers of the mid-twentieth century-Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin. He suggests that each of these authors rejects the idea of the black as innocent, insisting instead upon responsibility within modern society. Reid-Pharr then examines a number of responses to this presumed erosion of black innocence, paying particular attention to articulations of black masculinity by Huey Newton, one of the two founders of the Black Panther Party, and Melvin Van Peebles, director of the classic film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.Shuttling between queer theory, intellectual history, literary close readings, and autobiography, Once You Go Black is a bold, eloquent, and impassioned call to bring the language of choice into the study of black American literature and culture.