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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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Slavery Continued, Freedom Sought

Slavery Continued, Freedom Sought

Wright’s Political Intellectual Journey

(p.329) 20 Slavery Continued, Freedom Sought
The Politics of Richard Wright

Jane Anna Gordon

University Press of Kentucky

Jane Anna Gordon argues that Wright, while stressing the economic legacies of racialized enslavement, also explored three features of slavery that have persisted since its formal abolition: (1) the absence of a relationship between that for which enslaved people were responsible and that for which they were punished; (2) a legacy of “two races locked in daily combat”; and (3) the treatment of black people as if they had no kin. According to Wright, even though nonblack descendants of slaves have arguably become free of the histories of their ancestors, such freedom remains elusive for African-descended communities. For most black people, “postslavery” has been a protracted racialized neoslavery. Widespread public embarrassment regarding slavery’s continued grammar has not been matched by commitment to its actual eradication. Consequently, even though Wright himself was able to steal himself away from US unfreedom, this fell short of his normative ideal of freedom.

Keywords:   Richard Wright, racialized enslavement, neoslavery, postslavery, fugitivity

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