On Racial Frontiers: The New Culture of Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, and Bob Marley

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Cambridge University Press, Jun 28, 1999 - Social Science - 329 pages
Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison and Bob Marley each inhabited the shared but contested space at the frontiers of race. Gregory Stephens shows how their interactions with mixed audiences made them key figures in a previously hidden interracial consciousness and culture, and integrative ancestors who can be claimed by more than one 'racial' or national group. Douglass ('something of an Irishman as well as a Negro') was an abolitionist but also a critic of black racialism. Ellison's Invisible Man is a landmark of modernity and black literature which illustrates 'the true interrelatedness of blackness and whiteness'. Marley's allegiance was to 'God's side, who cause me to come from black and white'. His Bible-based Songs of Freedom envisage a world in which black liberation and multiracial redemption co-exist. The lives of these three men illustrate how our notions of 'race' have been constructed out of a repression of the interracial.
 

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This book had a great impact on my view and understanding of race. We so often confuse race for culture and phenotypes. Stephens lifts up how bi-racial persons expose the fallacy of our racial projections and identifications.

Contents

the contemporary rearview mirror
1
Interraciality in historical context return of the repressed
12
Frederick Douglass as integrative ancestor the consequences of interracial cocreation
54
Antagonistic cooperation and redeemable ideals in Douglass July 5 Speech
79
Douglass interracial marriage as mediatory symbol
94
Invisible community Ralph Ellisons vision of a multiracial ideal democracy
114
Bob Marleys Zion a transracial Blackman Redemption
148
Structure
167
Fruits
182
Legacy
212
integrative ancestors for the future
221
Acknowledgments
227
Notes
229
Select bibliography
304
Index
319
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