“Blackness” is multivalent concept that has been shaped by cultural and historical events, from colonial trade to desegregation, these global events have shaped African, American, and British societies as we know them today.
The link below highlights the black experience in the 20th century through the lens of literature. Whereas Malcolm X’s autobiography deconstructs the disillusionment of freedom and equality in America, the poetry of Jackie Kay’s the Adoption Papers explores biracial identity, parenthood, and #LGBTQ+ issues, all of which are themes that are included in Octavia Butler’s dystopian science fiction novel. “Parable Of The Sower”. Individually, the texts present the multifaceted nature of blackness, together they highlight systemic challenges people of the African diaspora have faced.
The authors and titles featured in my post Black Diaspora Literature of the 20th Century illustrate core problems during the cultivation of a black identity, using their lived experience, their poetry, and their allegories to tell the story African diaspora. We live in a post-colonial word, but xenophobia is still a real issue that has no borders, but seeks to build walls of false security. As we draw closer to 2020, let us take a look into the past so that we can focus on co-creating a more inclusive future.
Within Jackie Kay’s collection of poetry The Adoption Papers she presents a text that utilizes three different fonts to represent the three dominant voices; each voice is represented by a font, each font assuming the voice of one of the three females (in addition to a few other social voices, including an adoption agent and a desk clerk). The predominant voices within the text are a “birth mother,” an “adoptive mother” and an “adopted daughter.” The voices are “distinguished” through variations in typography; for the daughter, Kay adopts a Palatino typeface; for the adoptive mother she issues a Gill typeface, and for the birth mother Kay distinguishes her by using a Bodoni typeface (Kay 8). The fonts that the poet uses separate the voices in a way that Chris Dobbish describes as “egalitarian” in nature, suggesting that while the fonts are visibly different, one font is not greater than the other fonts. (It is not my intention to enter into a discussion about the multifaceted and intersecting histories of fonts at this point in time). The visual similarities that exist between the adoptive mother’s typeface and the Birth mother’s typeface are, at some points within Kay’s text, indistinguishable from one another.
Born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm Little, who later became known as Malcolm X was an iconic figure of the Civic Right movement. The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told Alex Haley includes intimate details about X’s life, from his days in Harlem, New York to life changing pilgrimage to Mecca.
As an African-American Muslim minister he became a human rights activist. His activism for people of color and his unabashed criticism of racism within America resulted in close surveillance by the United States government and the target of Black violence. On February 21, 1965, he was assassinated by Nation of Islam members Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler, and Thomas 15X Johnson. Before his death Malcolm had become a powerful voice for change in the Civil Rights movement.