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The Politics of Richard WrightPerspectives on Resistance$
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Jane Anna Gordon and Cyrus Ernesto Zirakzadeh

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813175164

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813175164.001.0001

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Masculinity, Misogyny, and the Limits of Racial Community

Masculinity, Misogyny, and the Limits of Racial Community

(p.120) 7 Masculinity, Misogyny, and the Limits of Racial Community
The Politics of Richard Wright

Paul Gilroy

University Press of Kentucky

This excerpt from Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic offers a different perspective on Wright’s thinking regarding relations between black men and women, and about the ability of black communities more generally to offer liberating narratives of racial authenticity. Gilroy suggests that one legacy of the racially coercive Jim Crow South was domestic authoritarianism, as well as violence in public and intimate relations. Wright recognized this and openly addressed it in his art. According to Gilroy, Wright manifested a protofeminism in his early work and later seemed to recognize the place of black women in racial struggle. At the same time, Wright thought that the stresses of modern black life meant that racial identity, on its own, could not guarantee racial solidarity or even fraternal association. This was evident in Wright’s portraits of black homophobia, misogyny and other antisocial attributes that could not be ascribed solely to racism. This frankness, Gilroy worries, is misunderstood by those who would read him in a narrowly US black context rather than alongside his diverse interlocutors on both sides of the Atlantic.

Keywords:   Richard Wright, protofeminism, homophobia, misogyny, racial authenticity

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