Post-Modern Blackness Essay, Research Paper


[ 1 ] Postmodernist discourses are frequently exclusionary even when, holding been accused of missing concrete relevancy, they call attending to and allow the experience of & # 8220 ; difference & # 8221 ; and & # 8220 ; otherness & # 8221 ; in order to supply themselves with oppositional political significance, legitimacy, and immediateness. Very few Afro-american intellectuals have talked or written about postmodernism. Recently at a dinner party, I talked about seeking to cope with the significance of postmodernism for modern-day black experience. It was one of those societal assemblages where merely one other black individual was present. The puting rapidly became a field of controversy. I was told by the other black individual that I was blowing my clip, that & # 8220 ; this material does non associate in any manner to what & # 8217 ; s go oning with black people. & # 8221 ; Talking in the presence of a group of white looker-ons, gazing at us as though this brush was staged for their benefit, we engaged in a passionate treatment about black experience. Apparently, no one sympathized with my insisting that racism is perpetuated when inkiness is associated entirely with concrete intestines level experience conceived either as opposing or holding no connexion to abstract thought and the production of critical theory. The thought that there is no meaningful connexion between black experience and critical thought about aesthetics or civilization must be continually interrogated.

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[ 2 ] My defence of postmodernism and its relevancy to black folks sounded good but I worried that I lacked strong belief, mostly because I approach the topic carefully and with intuition. Disturbed non so much by the & # 8220 ; sense & # 8221 ; of postmodernism but by the conventional linguistic communication used when it is written or talked about and by those who speak it, I find myself on the exterior of the discourse looking in. As a dianoetic pattern it is dominated chiefly by the voices of white male intellectuals and/or academic elites who speak to and about one another with coded acquaintance. Reading and analyzing their authorship to understand postmodernism in its multiple manifestations, I appreciate it but experience small disposition to ally myself with the academic hierarchy and exclusivity pervasive in the motion today.

[ 3 ] Critical of most composing on postmodernism, I possibly am more witting of the manner in which the focal point on & # 8220 ; distinctness and difference & # 8221 ; that is frequently alluded to in these plants seems to hold small concrete impact as an analysis or point of view that might alter the nature and way of postmodernist theory. Since much of this theory has been constructed in reaction to and against high modernism, there is rarely any reference of black experience or Hagiographas by black people in this work, specifically black adult females ( though in more recent work one may see mention to Cornel West, the black male bookman who has most engaged postmodernist discourse ) . Even if an facet of black civilization is the topic of postmodern critical composing the Works Cited will normally be those of black work forces. A work that comes instantly to mind is Andrew Ross & # 8217 ; chapter & # 8220 ; Hip, and the Long Front of Color & # 8221 ; in _No Respect: Intellectuals and Popular Culture_ ; though an interesting reading, it constructs black civilization as though black adult females have had no function in black cultural production. At the terminal of Meaghan Morris & # 8217 ; treatment of postmodernism included in her aggregation of essays _The Pirate & # 8217 ; s Fiance: Feminism and Postmodernism_ , she provides a bibliography of plants by adult females, placing them as of import parts to a discourse on postmodernism that offers new penetration every bit good as disputing male theoretical hegemony. Even though many of the plants do non straight address postmodernism, they address similar concerns. There are no mentions to work by black adult females.

[ 4 ] The failure to acknowledge a critical black presence in the civilization and in most scholarship and composing on postmodernism compels a black reader, peculiarly a black female reader, to interrogate her involvement in a topic where those who discuss and write about it seem non to cognize black adult females exist or to even see the possibility that we might be someplace composing or stating something that should be listened to, or bring forthing art that should be seen, heard, approached with rational earnestness. This is particularly the instance with plants that go on and on about the manner in which postmodernist discourse has opened up a theoretical terrain where & # 8220 ; difference and distinctness & # 8221 ; can be considered legitimate issues in the academy. Confronting both the deficiency of acknowledgment of black female presence that much postmodernist theory reinscribes and the opposition on the portion of most black folks to hearing about existent connexions between postmodernism and black experience, I enter a discourse, a pattern, where there may be no ready audience for my words, no clear hearer, uncertain, so, that my voice can or will be heard.

[ 5 ] During the Sixties, black power motions were influenced by positions that could be easy labeled modernist. Surely many of the ways black folks addressed issues of individuality conformed to a modernist universalizing docket. There was small review among black activists of patriarchate as a maestro narration. Despite the fact that black power political orientation reflected a modernist esthesia, these elements were shortly rendered irrelevant as hawkish protest was stifled by a powerful inhibitory *postmodern* province. The period straight after the black power motion was a clip when major intelligence magazines carried articles with cocky headlines like & # 8220 ; what of all time happened to Black America? & # 8221 ; This was an dry answer to the aggressive unmet demand by decentered, marginalized black topics who had at least for the minute successfully demanded a hearing, who had made it possible for black release to be a national political docket. In the aftermath of the black power motion, after so many Rebels were slaughtered and lost, many of these voices were silenced by a inhibitory province and others became unarticulate ; it has become necessary to happen new avenues for conveying the messages of black release battle, new ways to speak about racism and other political relations of domination. Extremist postmodernist pattern, most strongly conceptualized as a & # 8220 ; political relations of difference, & # 8221 ; should integrate the voices of displaced, marginalized, exploited, and laden black people.

[ 6 ] It is unhappily dry that the modern-day discourse which talks the most about heterogeneousness, the decentered topic, declaring discoveries that allow acknowledgment of distinctness, still directs its critical voice chiefly to a specialised audience, one that portions a common linguistic communication rooted in the really chief narrations it claims to dispute. If extremist postmodernist thought is to hold a transformative impact so a critical interruption with the impression of & # 8220 ; authorization & # 8221 ; as & # 8220 ; command over & # 8221 ; must non merely be a rhetorical device, it must be reflected in wonts of being, including manners of authorship every bit good as chosen capable affair. Third-world bookmans, particularly elites, and white critics who passively absorb white supremacist thought, and hence ne’er notice or expression at black people on the streets, at their occupations, who render us unseeable with their regard in all countries of day-to-day life, are non likely to bring forth liberatory theory that will dispute racist domination, or to advance a dislocation in traditional ways of seeing and believing about world, ways of building aesthetic theory and pattern. From a different point of view Robert Storr makes a similar review in the planetary issue of _Art in America_ when he asserts: To be certain, much postmodernist critical enquiry has centered exactly on the issues of & # 8220 ; difference & # 8221 ; and & # 8220 ; otherness. & # 8221 ; On the strictly theoretical plane the geographic expedition of these constructs has produced some of import consequences, but in the absence of any sustained research into what creative persons of colour and others outside the mainstream might be up to, such treatments become vagabond alternatively of extremist. Endless 2nd thinking about the latent imperialism of irrupting upon other civilizations merely compounded affairs, forestalling or pardoning these theoreticians from look intoing what black, Latino, Asiatic and Native American creative persons were really making. Without equal concrete cognition of and reach with the colored & # 8220 ; other, & # 8221 ; white theoreticians may travel in dianoetic theoretical waies that are endangering to and potentially riotous of that critical pattern which would back up extremist release battle.

[ 7 ] The postmodern review of & # 8220 ; individuality, & # 8221 ; though relevant for renewed black release battle, is frequently posed in ways that are debatable. Give a permeant politic of white domination which seeks to forestall the formation of extremist black subjectiveness, we can non cavalierly disregard a concern with individuality political relations. Any critic researching the extremist potency of postmodernism as it relates to racial difference and racial domination would necessitate to see the deductions of a review of individuality for laden groups. Many of us are fighting to happen new schemes of opposition. We must prosecute decolonisation as a critical pattern if we are to hold meaningful opportunities of survival even as we must at the same time get by with the loss of political foundation which made extremist activism more possible. I am believing here about the postmodernist review of essentialism as it pertains to the building of & # 8220 ; individuality & # 8221 ; as one illustration.

[ 8 ] Postmodern theory that is non seeking to merely allow the experience of & # 8220 ; otherness & # 8221 ; in order to heighten its discourse or to be radically smart should non divide the & # 8220 ; political relations of difference & # 8221 ; from the political relations of racism. To take racism earnestly one must see the predicament of underclass people of colour, a huge bulk of whom are black. For African-Americans our corporate status prior to the coming of postmodernism and possibly more tragically expressed under current postmodern conditions has been and is characterized by continued supplanting, profound disaffection and desperation. Writing about inkinesss and postmodernism, Cornel West describes our corporate predicament: There is increasing category division and distinction, making on the one manus a important black middle-class, extremely anxiety- ridden, insecure, willing to be co-opted and incorporated into the powers that be, concerned with racism to the grade that it poses restraints on upward societal mobility ; and, on the other, a huge and turning black lower class, an lower class that embodies a sort of walking nihilism of permeant drug dependence, permeant alcohol addiction, permeant homicide, and an exponential rise in self-destruction. Now because of the deindustrialization, we besides have a devastated black industrial working category. We are speaking here approximately enormous hopelessness. This hopelessness creates hankering for penetration and schemes for alteration that can regenerate liquors and retrace evidences for corporate black release battle. The overall impact of the postmodern status is that many other groups now portion with black folks a sense of deep disaffection, desperation, uncertainness, loss of a sense of foundation, even if it is non informed by shared circumstance. Extremist postmodernism calls attending to those esthesias which are shared across the boundaries

of category, gender, and race, and which could be fertile land for the building of empathy–ties that would advance acknowledgment of common committednesss and serve as a base for solidarity and alliance.

[ 9 ] & # 8220 ; Yearning & # 8221 ; is the word that best describes a common psychological province shared by many of us, cutting across boundaries of race, category, gender, and sexual pattern. Specifically in relation to the postmodernist deconstruction of & # 8220 ; maestro & # 8221 ; narrations, the longing that wells in the Black Marias and heads of those whom such narrations have silenced is the yearning for critical voice. It is no accident that & # 8220 ; blame & # 8221 ; has usurped the primary place of R & A ; B music among immature black folks as the most coveted sound, or that it began as a signifier of & # 8220 ; testimony & # 8221 ; for the lower class. It has enabled underclass black young person to develop a critical voice, as a group of immature black work forces told me, a & # 8220 ; common literacy. & # 8221 ; Rap undertakings a critical voice, explicating, demanding, pressing. Working with this penetration in his essay & # 8220 ; Puting the Pop Back into Postmodernism, & # 8221 ; Lawrence Grossberg remarks: The postmodern esthesia appropriates patterns as self-praises that announce their ain & # 8211 ; and accordingly our ain & # 8211 ; being, like a blame vocal self-praise of the fanciful ( or existent & # 8211 ; it makes no difference ) achievements of the rapper. They offer signifiers of authorization non merely in the face of nihilism but exactly through the signifiers of nihilism itself: an authorising nihilism, a minute of positiveness through the production and structuring of affectional dealingss. Sing that it is as a topic that one comes to voice, so the postmodernist focal point on the review of individuality appears, at first glimpse, to endanger and shut down the possibility that this discourse and pattern will let those who have suffered the disabling effects of colonisation and domination to derive or recover a hearing. Even if this sense of menace and the fright it evokes are based on a misinterpretation of the postmodernist political undertaking, they however shape responses. It ne’er surprises me when black common people respond to the review of essentialism, particularly when it denies the cogency of individuality political relations, by stating & # 8220 ; yeah, it & # 8217 ; s easy to give up individuality, when you got one. & # 8221 ; Though an apt and oftentimes appropriate rejoinder, this does non truly step in in the discourse in a manner that alters and transforms. We should so leery of postmodern reviews of the & # 8220 ; capable & # 8221 ; when they surface at a historical minute when many subjugated people feel themselves coming to voice for the first clip.

[ 10 ] Criticisms of waies in postmodern thought should non befog penetrations it may offer that open up our apprehension of African- American experience. The review of essentialism encouraged by postmodernist idea is utile for African americans concerned with redeveloping antique impressions of individuality. We have excessively long had imposed upon us, both from the exterior and the interior, a narrow compressing impression of inkiness. Postmodern reviews of essentialism which challenge impressions of catholicity and inactive over-determined individuality within aggregate civilization and mass consciousness can open up new possibilities for the building of the ego and the averment of bureau.

[ 11 ] Using a review of essentialism allows African-Americans to admit the manner in which category mobility has altered corporate black experience so that racism does non needfully have the same impact on our lives. Such a review allows us to confirm multiple black individualities, varied black experience. It besides challenges colonial imperialist paradigms of black individuality which represent blackness one- dimensionally in ways that reinforce and prolong white domination. This discourse created the thought of the & # 8220 ; crude & # 8221 ; and promoted the impression of an & # 8220 ; reliable & # 8221 ; experience, seeing as & # 8220 ; natural & # 8221 ; those looks of black life which conformed to a preexistent form or stereotype. Abandoning essentialist impressions would be a serious challenge to racism. Contemporary African- American opposition battle must be rooted in a procedure of decolonisation that continually opposes reinscribing impressions of & # 8220 ; reliable & # 8221 ; black individuality. This review should non be made synonymous with the dismissal of the battle of laden and exploited peoples to do ourselves topics. Nor should it deny that in certain fortunes that experience affords us a privileged critical location from which to talk. This is non a reinscription of modernist maestro narrations of authorization which privilege some voices by denying voice to others. Part of our battle for extremist black subjectiveness is the quest to happen ways to build ego and individuality that are oppositional and liberatory. The involuntariness to review essentialism on the portion of many African-Americans is rooted in the fright that it will do folks to lose sight of the specific history and experience of African- Americans and the alone esthesias and civilization that arise from that experience. An equal response to this concern is to review essentialism while stressing the significance of & # 8220 ; the authorization of experience. & # 8221 ; There is a extremist difference between a renunciation of the thought that there is a black & # 8220 ; kernel & # 8221 ; and acknowledgment of the manner black individuality has been specifically constituted in the experience of expatriate and battle.

[ 12 ] When black folks critique essentialism, we are empowered to acknowledge multiple experiences of black individuality that are the lived conditions which make diverse cultural productions possible. When this diverseness is ignored, it is easy to see black folks as falling into two classs & # 8211 ; nationalist or assimilationist, black-identified or white- identified. Coming to footings with the impact of postmodernism for black experience, peculiarly as it changes our sense of individuality, means that we must and can rearticulate the footing for corporate bonding. Given the assorted crises confronting African-Americans ( economic, religious, intensifying racial force, etc. ) we are compelled by circumstance to reevaluate our relationship to popular civilization and opposition battle. Many of us are as loath to confront this undertaking as many non-black postmodern minds who focus theoretically on the issue of & # 8220 ; difference & # 8221 ; are to face the issue of race and racism.

[ 13 ] Music is the cultural merchandise created by African- Americans that has most attracted postmodern theoreticians. It is seldom acknowledged that there is far greater censoring and limitation of other signifiers of cultural production by black folks & # 8211 ; get downing with literary and critical authorship. Attempts on the portion of editors and printing houses to command and pull strings the representation of black civilization, every bit good as their desire to advance the creative activity of merchandises which will pull the widest audience, bound in a crippling and smothering manner the sort of work many black folks feel we can make and still receive acknowledgment. Using myself as an illustration, that creative composing I do which I consider to be most brooding of a postmodern oppositional esthesia & # 8211 ; work that is abstract, disconnected, non-linear narrative & # 8211 ; is invariably rejected by editors and publishing houses who tell me it does non conform to the type of composing they think black adult females should be making or the type of composing they believe will sell. Surely I do non believe I am the lone black individual engaged in signifiers of cultural production, particularly experimental 1s, who is constrained by the deficiency of an audience for certain sorts of work. It is of import for postmodern minds and theoreticians to represent themselves as an audience for such work. To make this they must asseverate power and privilege within the infinite of critical authorship to open up the field so that it will be more inclusive. To alter the exclusionary pattern of postmodern critical discourse is to ordain a postmodernism of opposition. Part of this intercession entails black rational engagement in the discourse.

[ 14 ] In his essay & # 8220 ; Postmodernism and Black America, & # 8221 ; Cornel West suggests that black intellectuals & # 8220 ; are fringy & # 8211 ; normally pine awaying at the interface of Black and white civilizations or exhaustively ensconced in Euro- American scenes & # 8221 ; and he can non see this group as possible manufacturers of extremist postmodernist thought. While I by and large agree with this appraisal, black intellectuals must continue with the apprehension that we are non condemned to the borders. The manner we work and what we do can find whether or non what we produce will be meaningful to a wider audience, one that includes all categories of black people. West suggests that black intellectuals lack & # 8220 ; any organic nexus with most of Black life & # 8221 ; and that this & # 8220 ; diminishes their value to Black resistance. & # 8221 ; This statement bears hints of essentialism. Possibly we need to concentrate more on those black intellectuals, nevertheless rare our presence, who do non experience this deficiency and whose work is chiefly directed towards the sweetening of black critical consciousness and the strengthening of our corporate capacity to prosecute in meaningful opposition battle. Theoretical thoughts and critical believing need non be transmitted entirely in the academy. While I work in a preponderantly white establishment, I remain closely and passionately engaged with black communities. It & # 8217 ; s non like I & # 8217 ; m traveling to speak about authorship and believing about postmodernism with other faculty members and/or intellectuals and non discourse these thoughts with underclass non-academic black folks who are household, friends, and companions. Since I have non broken the ties that bind me to underclass hapless black community, I have seen that cognition, particularly that which enhances day-to-day life and strengthens our capacity to last, can be shared. It means that critics, authors, faculty members have to give the same critical attending to nurturing and cultivating our ties to black communities that we give to composing articles, instruction, and talking. Here once more I am truly speaking about cultivating wonts of being that reinforce consciousness that cognition can be disseminated and shared on a figure of foreparts, and the extent to which it is made available and accessible depends on the nature of one & # 8217 ; s political committednesss.

[ 15 ] Postmodernist civilization with its decentered topic can be the infinite where ties are severed or it can supply the juncture for new and varied signifiers of adhering. To some extent ruptures, surfaces, contextuality and a host of other occurrences create spreads that make infinite for oppositional patterns which no longer necessitate intellectuals to be confined to contract, separate domains with no meaningful connexion to the universe of every twenty-four hours. Much postmodern battle with civilization emerges from the longing to make rational work that connects with wonts of being, signifiers of artistic look and aesthetics, that inform the day-to-day life of a mass population every bit good as authors and bookmans. On the terrain of civilization, one can take part in critical duologue with the uneducated hapless, the black lower class who are believing about aesthetics. One can speak about what we are seeing, believing, or listening to ; a infinite is at that place for critical exchange. It & # 8217 ; s exciting to believe, compose, talk about, and make art that reflects passionate battle with popular civilization, because this may really good be & # 8220 ; the & # 8221 ; cardinal future location of opposition battle, a meeting topographic point where new and extremist occurrences can happen.


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