Category: solomon northup

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The “Visceral Feelings” of Racism in Frank Yerby’s “Griffin’s Way”

Throughout his career, Frank Yerby confronted whiteness and white supremacy in his novels. He looked at the ways that racism, xenophobia, nationalism, and oppression affected the oppressor as well as the oppressed. This is what Lillian Smith does throughout her work. It’s what Harper Lee attempts to do in To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s what Toni Morrison says we should do in Playing in … Read More The “Visceral Feelings” of Racism in Frank Yerby’s “Griffin’s Way”

David Walker’s “Cyborg” and Identity: Part II

Last post, I started looking at David Walker’s Cyborg, and I noted that his arc, “Unplugged,” is not an origin story about how Victor Stone became Cyborg. Instead, it is an arc chronicling how Victor Stone, as Cyborg, becomes Victor Stone. It’s an arc tracing how Victor Stone becomes visible to his family and society. It’s an arc that, at its core, encapsulates the … Read More David Walker’s “Cyborg” and Identity: Part II

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Racist Thought in Al Feldstein and Joe Orlando’s “Judgement Day”

Over the past few months, I have delved into the EC Comics’ back vault, mainly looking at the more realistic Shock SuspenStories. A couple of weeks ago, Blair Davis tweeted about an Al Feldstein and Joe Orlando story from Weird Fantasy #18 entitled “Judgement Day” from 1953. Davis’s tweet read, “Comics+politics=’Judgement Day.’ If you haven’t read this 1953 tale from EC Comics’ Weird Fantasy … Read More Racist Thought in Al Feldstein and Joe Orlando’s “Judgement Day”

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Illuminating the Truth in Ethiop’s “Afric-American Picture Gallery”

Last post, I wrote about William J. Wilson’s motivation for writing the “Afric-American Picture Gallery (1859). Today, I want to expand on that conversation some and show how Wilson, under the pen-name Ethiop, challenges the master narratives of American history in much the same ways that David Walker, John Russwurm, Samuel Cornsih, Frederick Douglass, Solomon Northup, and others did during the early to mid-nineteenth … Read More Illuminating the Truth in Ethiop’s “Afric-American Picture Gallery”

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Edgar Allan Poe’s “Hop-Frog” and Slave Rebellion

Ever since I first encountered Edgar Allan Poe’s “Hop-Frog, or the Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs,” I became intrigued by the issues Poe addressed through this Gothic story that takes place far away from American soil. The story first appeared in 1849, and we can read the story in an autobiographical manner, as some scholars have done. However, I would argue that we must also read … Read More Edgar Allan Poe’s “Hop-Frog” and Slave Rebellion

Soundtrack Assignment in the Literature Classroom

Every semester I try something new in the classroom. Sometimes this may involve adding activities such as the fish bowl, working in the archives, or having students write on the board to generate ideas. I take these ideas and tweak them as I go along because, as we know, every class is not the same. What works in one class may not necessarily work … Read More Soundtrack Assignment in the Literature Classroom

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Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and How We Need to Think About the Past

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a speech entitled “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Last week, I wrote about a small section of this speech, and today I want to expand that discussion some more, looking at what Douglass says about what we should do, or shouldn’t do, with the past. The entire speech, of course, focuses on America’s … Read More Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and How We Need to Think About the Past

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The Transmission of Racist Thought in Solomon Northup’s “Twelve Years a Slave”

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled “Why can’t we just move on? The past is the past.” In that post, I examine how Thomas Jefferson, David Walker, and Solomon Northup all argue that it is nurture, not nature, that produces within us thoughts of discrimination. I wrote about Northup’s descriptions of William Ford and Edwin Epps’ son in that post, … Read More The Transmission of Racist Thought in Solomon Northup’s “Twelve Years a Slave”

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Fireworks, hot dogs, music, and inequality on the Fourth of July

Why you ain’t march on Selma? Why you ain’t tell the refugees “please stay with me”? Why when you take communion, it don’t remind you of your union? That you too were once undocumented too Why do you love your guns more than our sons? Why you patriots first? Why you worshipping the flag?–Propaganda Today, we celebrate the Fourth of July, America’s independence. We … Read More Fireworks, hot dogs, music, and inequality on the Fourth of July

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Surveillance and “Dark Sousveillance” in Solomon Northup

In various posts, I ave written about surveillance in African American literature and music in the works of Ernest J. Gaines, Lecrae, and Arna Bontemps. Drawing upon Jeremy Bentham’s “Panopticon,” Michel Foucault argues that individuals, in various settings, experience surveillance whether they know it or not. As well, that surveillance creates within the subject a feeling of policing him or herself, thus becoming both … Read More Surveillance and “Dark Sousveillance” in Solomon Northup

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The Juxtaposition of Beauty and Brutality in Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave

During an interview with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Steve McQueen commented on the juxtaposition between beauty and horror in his film adaptation of Twelve Years a Slave (2013). I have written about this before in regards to the scene where Tibeats attempts to lynch Nortup. Today, I want to expand upon that discussion some more, especially after recently rereading Northup’s narrative. This time around, … Read More The Juxtaposition of Beauty and Brutality in Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave

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“Why can’t we just move on? The past is the past.”

My own people owned people, but they don’t own that They say racism’s dead, man our President is black Two terms in the White House, that don’t mean jack If we still believe our present ain’t affected by our past–Andy Mineo “Uncomfortable” One question I hear over and over again when I speak or write about the history of racism, subjugation, and oppression in … Read More “Why can’t we just move on? The past is the past.”