African American Studies Arts/Culture & Politics Relationship

History accounts for the African American enslavement from the slave trade days and the overall progressive struggle for equality as part of the Americans. The struggle has not been easy to achieve as each step has witnessed resistance both politically and socially. The White Americans particularly in the old days failed to recognize African Americans as their equals despite the end of slavery. The government was also not very supportive of the process of achieving equality among all the Americans. As a result, movements have been formulated to push for the equality and freedom of the African Americans throughout different centuries. Art, literature, and culture have been applied significantly to advocate for the liberation of African Americans in the Post-Civic Era, the New Black Aesthetics, and the Negro Renaissance. The periods apply different perspectives of advocating for recognition and equity of the Black Americans as this study will prove.

The New Black Aesthetics

Ellis notes that the black cultures are mostly responsible for the popularity of the solving of the identity problem (327). As part of identifying with the black cultures, the NBA artists presets a new culture that majority of the people identified with. The problem of old and ordinary reactionary towards blacks’ cultures is widely addressed through the representation of cultures that is commonly accepted by the majority of the Blacks. As cited by Ellis, Wilson argues the “what blacks were a ding in the 60s is coming to some fruition…” (238). The traditions are addressing the dominant beliefs that created fears of inferiority through propaganda that made African Americans feel inferior to the majority group white Americans. Accordingly, cultures are used as the reassurance that African American are not in any way inferior to white Americans as the dominant cultures hold. The advocacy of equality is attained through the creation of popular cultures that most African Americans feel proud to be attributed with.

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Finkel notes that there was discrimination against the African American artists as they experienced more challenges than the white Americans in the contemporary art scene (1). Additionally, the African cultures are least appreciated as few people are associated with the artists (2). Evidently, the dominant cultures have overshadowed the blacks’ traditions to the extent that even the black art is consumed selectively. Ideally, the residue cultures of discrimination seem to take center stage acting as the backdrop of determining the right and the wrong traditions. The same traditions are used as the determinants of the artistic affinities with prizes of extemporary performance being attributed to the same standards. In the end, the movement tries to challenges such notions proving that African Americans are equally right without having to subject them to the general norms. The African Americans are an independent lot that has its ideas which cannot be fully appreciated through subjecting them to what is popularly right. The same discrimination is extended in different aspects as noted by Wells who argues that African Americans were accused falsely of trying to rape white women (9). They were treated as lesser beings when compared to the Southerners which shows the reasons why the African Americans strived to achieve freedom from discrimination by the white Americans.

According to Hsu the post-racial age or the “end of white American” dominance is profoundly coming to an end (2). The primarily seen as the minority groups (The African Americans and the Hispanic Communities) were taking advantage of the polarized modern cultures. They challenged the existing norms showing that despite the long-held notions, the African Americans and the Hispanic communities are equally better as the White Americans. Hsu believes that there is the possibility of shifting the mindset of the people to believe in accepting that shift in cultures can advocate for equality (2). Civilization creates room for a better understanding and appreciation of the cultural diversity of the different groups.

In the Transcript of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), it is written that “in the Civil Right Cases, 109 U.S.3.…” the congress entitled all the persons within the US jurisdiction different rights and opportunity regardless of their race or ethnicity (5). Previously the government of the US was used to spread the propaganda of the white superiority through the US of political rhetoric. The Negro Renaissance after the Reconstruction ended faced this challenge of political views that White Americans were better than the minority Black Americans. Thus, Post-Civil Rights era tries to shift this perception by using cultures that demonstrate that African and white Americans are all equal. The movements of post-1970s focused mainly on the popularization of the African American beliefs as equally good as those of the White Americans. The movement was mainly concerned with the aesthetics of the Black Americans indicating that African cultures can be as popular as those of the whites.

In contrast, the movements approach the issue of liberation differently. The 1890s evolution focuses on the political liberation while the 1970s movements’ advance the issues of equal rights through different factors such politics, cultures, and art. The 1970s further popularize the African American cultures as a way of advocating for equality through encouraging more people to identify with the cultures. Spillers adds that the period between 1968 and 1970 was the fruition of a radical and pluralistic democracy (430). Evidently, the period was also defined by the need for political change to include the minority groups as necessary.


Works Cited

Ellis, Trey. “The new black aesthetic.” Callaloo 38 (1989): 233-243.

Finkel, Jori. “A Reluctant Fraternity, Thinking Post-Black.” New York Times 10 (2007).

Hsu, Hua. The End of White America? The Atlantic. Magazine. 2009.

Spillers, Hortense J. Black, white, and in color: Essays on American literature and culture. University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Transcript of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).

Wells, Ida B. Southern Horrors: Lynch law in all its phases. The Floating Press, 2014.