Reintroducing Sarah Wright

Karageorgos, Konstantina Mary

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/05/2014
Year Published:  2014  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20437

Karageorgos places Wright's novel "This Child's Gonna Live" about the experience of Black women's triple oppression within a historical context to analyze her critique of Black nationalism.



Moving beyond orthodox and outdated class divisions that pitted the working classes against the bourgeoisie, Wright emphasized the Black working class's acquiescence to the needs of capital. Impressed by the cultural risks taken in Herbert Marcuse's One Dimensional Man, Wright dramatizes the limitations of an insular Black community with a cultural psychology consonant with the interests of capital.

This tension is represented primarily through Tangierneck's obsession with the land as an economic abstraction -- as property. Comprehending their relationship as one marked by their "lack of property" or ownership of "property" rather than as one marked by the transparent antithesis of "labor" and "capital,"(3) the majority Black citizens of Tangierneck sacrifice everything to own the plots of land on which they live and work. In their striving for what they perceive to be a more complete and secure existence, they not only fail to grasp the extent of their oppression, but nurture a system that would suffer by their indifference.

While Wright, who was well versed in DuBois' Black Reconstruction if not Marx's Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, sought to represent this striving (and Mariah's disinterest) for the land as a central contradiction to Black existence, her complex representations put her at risk for accusations of race trading from Black artists less concerned with complex representation. Rather than succumb to the growing number of voices who warned that such representation would reinforce cultural stigmas already in place, Wright retained a negative utopic sensibility.

Instead of picturing an ideal world, she would instead foreground ideological divisions in Black culture, focusing especially on under-discussed clashes within the ostensibly unified Black working class.
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