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Friday, August 21, 2020

Black No More by George Schuyler

Fascinating, funny, awkward and strange. Schuyler's 1931 satire of the Harlem Renaissance, American racism and white superiority is considered a vanguard in the field of Afrofuturism (although the term itself would not be coined for another sixty years. Max Disher, a black man, falls in love with a white woman at a Harlem nightclub. When she spurns him, his frustration leads him to a nascent medical technology, "Black No More," which turns black people into white people. Controlled, widespread topsy-turvy ensues. Now Matthew Fisher, he infiltrates a Klan-like organizaton (The Knights of Nordica) run by the woman's father, and eventually attains power and money, and marries the woman. Fear that their offspring will be "half-black" seizes him. That's just the basic plot. Nationally, the new technology wreaks havoc on American society; the South is ravaged by the disappearance of its black population, who flock to the new technology. The Northern cities's black commerce and industry are destroyed by the same. Politics is upended in the search for new racial scapegoats. It's funny - but not ha ha ha funny.

Schuyler, a prominent conservative voice, opposed the civil rights movement, and himself married a wealthy Texas white heiress. He was shunned by the black community.

Currently a musical is in production with music by the Roots' Black Thought.

Recommended!

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