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Minority Literatures[1]

Minority Literatures[1]

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Published by Mohammed Jhilila
Voicing Diasporic individual's stance, Afro-American Poetry and the hardship of maintaining a secular stance between Identity Fetishism and identity in the making.
Voicing Diasporic individual's stance, Afro-American Poetry and the hardship of maintaining a secular stance between Identity Fetishism and identity in the making.

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Published by: Mohammed Jhilila on Mar 25, 2009
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Jhilila 1Mohammed JhililaProf. HaddadiMinority literature03 April 2008One of the immanent failings to understand what minority stands for, besidesmisunderstanding it in juxtaposition with majority, is taking it as synonymous to ethnicity.The two concepts do overlap at many instances but they are not equivalent; that is to say,while ethnicity might include many minorities that are excluded from a given society, whichmakes it inclusive to minority, minority can not always include all ethnicities. However, bothare considered as victims and of the contemporaneous millennium.Poetry and all texts emerging from minorities are considered arts of the victims. Poetryis, as William Wordsworth has defined, the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, andfor Thomas Hardy, anything different from words knitting. The poetic texts am going to dealwith is taken from the second perspective. Poetic texts have always been considered as pleasurable genre, while, like any other texts, they are a reflection of the social, political andthe economic contexts the poet and the poems stem from. The African American literary textsin this respect do not make any exception. The sociality, the politicity and the ecomonicity of the texts understudy are, I deem, the best linchpin lenses through which we can read them.Being a minority text entails a social fragmentation and may be even social exclusion.Accordingly, careful reading is necessitated. Poetry is an allegorical and symbolic(re)presentation of the whole tapestry it emerges from. Before taking the reading any further, Ineed to make the distinction between both ethnicity and minority, if any, and how the two arereproduced within the artefacts. The historical epoch in which the poets lived and producedtheir texts is significant. The slogan of the coming paper will be always historicise as well as
 
Jhilila 2always politicise. Henceforth, the texts are dealt with as historical records and social mirror of the general situation of the African American minority.A minority is any group that lives in the margin of a given society. Because of its particularities, it is not easily assimilated within the general social economic and politicalenvironment. An ethnic is marked by its linguistic, cultural and even racial simulacra. Bothlabels are featured by solidarity among their members. Yet, they are dichotomous because anethnic group can not always be marginalized as is the case of the minorities. The question of identity is usually raised while studying or probing both categorizations. For Felix Geyer, aminority is a normal consequence of the process of social change. Though this latter does notlink the term to migration, he stresses that alienation is the minorities pressing umbrella.Melvin Seeman, totally opposing Geyer, structures five types and dimensions of alienationthat are the following: powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, social alienation, andself-estrangement. Both minorities and ethnicities suffer some common features of alienationthat are powerlessness and social alienation if not also self-estrangement. In reading thecoming poems, my focus will be on the social alienation as well as powerlessness and howthey are reflected by the Harlem Poets. Seeman has later on added another feature of alienation that is the cultural one. I will open a vantage, whenever necessary, to refer to thecultural dimension of alienation. As it is mentioned in The Political Unconscious andAlienation, Ethnicity and Postmodernism, one is not always conscious about his alienation; hemight be alienated but because of a false consciousness, would not experience it and would behappy with his present situation.Having settled the ground for the paper, I would like to investigate the experience of theAfrican American minority. Before Martin Luther King’s Negro American human rightsmovement during the 1960s, the African originated Americans were socially and politicallynegated accesses to many facilities and responsibilities that the rest were allowed in. long before the Harlem movement, the Harlem renaissance took place. Yet alienation protracted.
 
Jhilila 3The African American alienation was a process and strategy rather than a microcosm of thenormal societal development. This can be read from Geyer who says: Alienation is a process,although marked by a degree of stagnation of fixation, rather than a state
1
 In the collection of poems issued by the African American poets is mirrored, adamantlyand with little dexterity, the general experience suffered by the generation of the 1940s. In theBabilon Revisited, Amiri Baraka tackles one of the most critical issues raised by researchersconcerned with minorities in multicultural studies. Migration and the African Negro Diasporain Europe and America are reflected through the first verses. For the poet, the discourse of the savage other is the legend that these countries made use of to alienate him. The African isdepicted as a vampire who “sucks the life of some unknown Niger.” For Baraka, the Africanman’s name will be known but his substance will never. This leads me to Frantz Fanon’sBlack Skin, White Masks where the black is estranged psychologically by the white idealwhen he becomes not known even to him/herself. For Fanon, the black was taught to seek thewhiteness he will never achieve and to hate blackness which he can nere recuperate.Alienation, in this respect, is not always strictly social it is also psychological. The African is psychologically reduced to a mere phallus that seeks recognition that he finds in his sexualintercourse with white women as it is expressed by Amiri when he says: to concern the whitestomach of maidens. The anima of the black man is a white girl as it is expressed by FrantzFanon when he says:Who but a white woman can do this for me? By loving me she provesthat I am worthy of white love. I am loved like white man. I am awhite man
2
.‘I was made a white man by lighter, white man talk’ says Amiri. This latter is a little bitambivalent in (UN) identifying himself with the African origins; in
 Kâ ba
, he says: “we are beautiful people with African imaginations” and proudly refers to Africa yet he says later onthat “Africa is a foreign place”. For him, addressing his “so called people” as he use it.
1
Felix Geyer, ed. Alienation, Ethnicity, and Postmodernism ( London : Greenwood Press, 1995) X.
2
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans, Charles.L. Markmann (New York : Grove Press, Inc, 1967) 63.

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