Racial love and racial Hate in postwarAmerican literature: From lorraine hansberry to Roi Jones
This research has explored the theme of racial love and hatred with specific reference to three major Black American authors (Hansberry, Baldwin and Jones/Baraka) of the Black American Renaissance of the 1950s and the 1960s. It sets out with the assumption that these authors are deeply impacted by the Western Renaissance of the 1500s and 1600s in their deployment of the Socratic/Platonic dialogue and Ovidian aesthetics in their treatment of love and hatred across the racial board and in the context of the racial tensions of the period. Taking our bearings from historicist, dialogic, and psychopoetic theory developed by such literary theorists as Bloom and Bakhtin, this research has arrived at five major findings. One, the three authors of the Black American Renaissance deploy Platonism and Ovidianism in the same manner as their white counterparts of the Western Renaissance. Two, these authors’ family romances is a double family romance since they hold relations with both white and Black authors. Three, notwithstanding to black aesthetics, their works show a highly linguistic, cultural and aesthetic hybridity borrowing as much from the Black tradition as from the white tradition. Four, their stand towards the white tradition of love literature is sometimes that of stylization as is the case with Baldwin and Hansberry and at other times of overt polemics and parody as is the case of Jones/Baraka. With respect to the relation that the three authors hold among themselves it is marked by a highly divisive “clash over the referents” of racial love and hatred making Baldwin and Hansberry as predominantly Platonic and Jones as predominantly Ovidian in their erotic visions of the black and white “races”. The fifth and last finding relates to the fact that in spite of claims to the contrary, even such militants for a distinct black aesthetics as Jones/Baraka, the Black American artists of the Black American Renaissance remain heavily indebted to the Western literary and philosophical tradition for the methodology and the literary and philosophical tools they deploy in their works. It is in this sense, that this research follows in the lead of Ralph Ellison’s claim that Black American literature is “double-voiced” and that its major authors have both white ancestors and black literary relatives.