Bell Hooks and Langston Hughes

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The general consensus on postmodernism is that it’s indefinable, Bell hooks offers a solution in her essay Postmodern Blackness. She grounds the philosophical issues of postmodernism within the political framework of race and gender. She poses the question, why haven’t African Americans discussed “postmodern theory”. She describes post modernity as the celebration of differences and otherness, with that said she challenges postmodernism with the inclusion of African American identity. In many ways her essay covers some ground that, Langston Hughes, of the Harlem Renaissance did in his story The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain. In which he discusses the significance of skin color and how it affects African American life. Both Hughes and Hooks take aim at what identity means to them and how it applies to the African American, but in very different approaches. Although hook’s speaks for African Americans, she makes a point to concentrate on women and men, displaying how postmodern theory applies to them. Meanwhile, Hughes takes aim for the struggle of being a “negro” and the importance of accepting their skin color. Still he mainly focuses on the African American men, never truly identifying with the female of the community. Both still focus on the interweaving of African American culture in the United States and the issues of race, identity, and gender. The opening of both papers identifies the purpose of the papers, with Hooks discussing a dinner party, which an argument occurs against the only other African American there. They argue in particular on whether postmodernism applies to African Americans. Her opponent clearly does not agree with her, stating “this stuff doesn’t not relate in any way to what’s happening with black... ... middle of paper ... ...o this thought, although she critics the ideals of something like isolating one’s self in order to gain individualization; her papers purpose is to showcase such “beauty” that Hughes stresses. In Postmodern Blackness, Hooks splits the postmodern African American into groups of two, the essentialist and nationalists. Hughes would fall into the essentialist category, in which they value history and tradition; salvaging their identity. Hooks doesn’t shy away from criticizing this way of understanding, clarifying that it may open up “our understanding of African-American experience” (pg 2513). She goes on to further examine that notion. Proclaiming that a critique on essentialism “allows African-American to acknowledge the way in which class mobility has altered collective black experience so that racism does not necessarily have the same impact on our lives.”(pg 2514)

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