Arelle wrote a new post, Dark Really Does Matter, on the site Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication 1 month, 3 weeks ago
Simone Browne’s Dark Matters was a very interesting read for me. To have a look into the world of black surveillance from someone who wasn’t being surveilled is interesting in itself but I found the term “ey […]
Arelle wrote a new post, Race Against the Empire Response, on the site Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication 2 months ago
After watching Paul Roberson’s story “Here I Stand” the content received from Penny M. Von Eschen’s Race Against the Empire helped to put many things into perspective. Paul Robeson was amazing to learn about b […]
Arelle wrote a new post, The Narrows – JC and Jubine, on the site Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication 2 months ago
In the Narrows I see the importance of each character – Abbie, Bill, Link, Camilla (I see what she represents and misrepresents), the Powthers, Mrs. Treadway – because they all have roles to play in sending the […]
Arelle wrote a new post, Brown Girl, Brownstones: American Dream Winners and Losers, on the site Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication 3 months ago
Brown Girl, Brownstones was without a doubt a familiar story to me. The West Indian family that leaves their lives behind in hopes of finding the American Dream. Unfortunately, as it is for Silla Boyce, and many […]
Hi, Arelle, I like your question “who really wins in these situations?” and that might well be the tag line to Brown Girl, Brownstones if it were a movie. Marshall gives us a range of portraits of immigrants in America, a variety of ways to assimilate or fight assimilation, strive or refuse to be part of the striving. The ending so brilliantly allows Selina open choices, including to decline any of the options offered to her (by parents, by other immigrants, by her boyfriend). Will she make it? Won’t she? We don’t know. But we know she is a very strong character who has the will to try to find a new way. That’s remarkable, and a really brilliant ending and beginning, isn’t it?
It’s interesting how you also saw the disillusionment that can happen to those who come to America, and the ease with which anyone can lose their way morally when wrestling with the temptations of this land of material opportunity. Silla does lose a lot in the sacrifice, like you stated, and yet it’s heartbreaking that she does not see in advance that she won’t get what she most dreamed of.
Thanks for sharing your experiences in this post. You wrote:
Ultimately, Selina heads out to find her own way but not after having lost her father and part of herself. This experience is that of many people whose family emigrates to America in hopes of a better life via material gains. They end up losing their values and direction after fighting too long for those hopes to become reality.
This aspect of the novel was fascinating, as Silla seemed to lose her values the more she struggled to get ahead. She strove for something more than material gain, but for power for herself and her family. However, she got this power at her husband’s expense. Perhaps it was her feminist rage for being cheated on and put down throughout their marriage – for not being treated as an equal. Or perhaps it was a complicated greed that prioritized her daughters’ wellbeing above all else. But, yes, she certainly seemed to lose her values somewhere along the way.
I respect your opinion about Silla. You write: “Her behavior, selling Deighton Boyce’s land in Barbados, speaking down to Deighton, pushing and pushing no matter who she trampled on, proved in the end not to only lead to a Brownstone of her own but of loneliness and unhappiness.” I have to say that I have so much sympathy for her. She could not count on her husband, he constantly cheated on her, and then threw away the most money they had ever had. He was a terrible husband. Now, I am not saying that she wins Wife of the Year, but she was a woman driven to desperate measures. Perhaps we can all have a little sympathy for her.
Arelle wrote a new post, Yesterday Will Make You Cry: My Take, on the site Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication 3 months, 3 weeks ago
“The real prison was the prison in his mind.” This one sentence set the tone for this entire novel for me. It defined the misconceptions of prison being a dead place where no one grows and futures are dim. It als […]
I’m just reading some of our classmates’ responses about Himes’ YWMYC.
I love your line, “Jimmy Monroe, scared of allowing himself to be himself…”! And you make an interesting point about how so many of the episodes in prison can be interpreted to be about the need for avoiding white male emasculation…
I like your post too–and the insight that there is a tension between the “prison” and the “prison of the mind” and, I would add, how to save your mind, your heart, while being incarcerated, confined, thinking you may serve twenty years when you are barely twenty. Himes does that brilliantly. Thanks for your sensitive response. Best, Cathy
“The real prison was the prison in his mind” is a powerful sentence that depicts many aspects of Jimmy’s imprisonment. From his sexuality to his insecurities, he constantly undervalues himself, so much so that it causes him to make painful decisions that cause his unhappiness. He is too insecure to be honest with his friends, his family, but most importantly, himself.
Arelle wrote a new post, Arelle Binning: Response to William J. Maxwell’s “Total Literary Awareness: How the FBI Pre-Read African American Writing”, on the site Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication 4 months, 2 weeks ago
William J. Maxwell’s “Total Literary Awareness: How the FBI Pre-Read African American Writing” interests me on several levels. The first is that I was not aware of how bad a surveillance problem we have. Second […]
Thanks for such an evocative blog post, Arelle. You write: “It makes me wonder, what exactly the government feared by a liberated person of color? I want to know – is there is more than fear of communism or an uprising that fuels these investigations?” I think this will be an issue we think about and talk about all semester. Why does our government so fear people of color? Is it politics, is it fear of “retaliation” for racism, is it a definition that makes a person of color automatically “suspect”? These are stated and implied questions that the writers we will be reading all grapple with.
I also was moved by your question, “It makes me wonder, what exactly the government feared by a liberated person of color? I want to know – is there is more than fear of communism or an uprising that fuels these investigations?” I think that the history of communism and the suppression of communists has been so whitewashed that the combination of the two is not commonly analyzed in many left analyses. That’s what makes this course and studying these works so essential.