By James T. Bratcher
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Extra info for Analytical Index to Publications of Texas Folklore Society, Vols 1-36
Shortly before the famous coinage and deﬁnition of négritude in this poem (67), the poetic voice describes a scene in which the exaggerated physical appearance of a black streetcar passenger obliges him to experience his own fears and partial liberation: “You must know the extent of my cowardice. One evening on the streetcar facing me, a nigger” (63). At ﬁrst, the description begins by denouncing the poverty that gave form to the passenger’s and, simultaneously, to the islands’ appearance: A nigger big as a pongo trying to make himself small on the streetcar bench.
I want to emphasize this issue of “autonomy” in order to clarify that the colonizer versus colonized polarity has shifted into broader, less visible, and more cosmopolitan conﬁgurations in which class diﬀerences and allegiances across borders inform and aﬀect deﬁnitions of local and national cultures. What enhances this “invisibility” is the preponderance of the false impression Introduction 43 that the former colonizers and new ones are physically absent and, hence, do not participate nor have a stake in local antagonisms.
When I should have been begged, implored, I was denied the slightest recognition? I resolved, since it was impossible for me to get away from an inborn complex, there remained only one solution: to make myself known. (115) In his call for the recognition of his place in French society, Fanon quotes Césaire’s “Put up with me. ” (131). Although the masking practices that I described earlier took place in Caribbean carnivals during the nineteenth century, and Césaire and Fanon emblematized their respective forms of négritude in scenes that occurred in urban French and French Caribbean societies during the twentieth, these strategies are alike in that they claim public space for the presence of 26 Introduction blacks both as part of a contemporary occidental reality and as a historical fact of modernity.
Analytical Index to Publications of Texas Folklore Society, Vols 1-36 by James T. Bratcher