Nowhere is Schuyler’s celebration of ambiguity in opposition to eugenic foundationalism more apparent than in his masterful satire Black No More. In the novel, the journalist-turned-writer shifts hallmarks of the American social and racial scene of the 1920s, destabilizes certainties and confuses the reader. He invites us into a topsy-turvy science fiction world where the rule of the logic of binary oppositions gives way to experimentation with ambivalence. Rather than sticking to the black-and-white realm of races and ideas, Schuyler offers a carnivalesque world where gray is the color of ideas and brown is the dominant skin tone. Schuyler’s experimentation with ambivalence and ideological and racial hybridity and American racial optics is his response to the eugenic hegemonic discourse of foundationalism, scientific certainty, deeply entrenched binarism and, as Schuyler puts it, “American Colorphobia.”1
- Racial Social
- White Supremacy
- Racial Spectacle
- Interracial Marriage
- Racial Purity
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
In “Some Unsweet Truths about Race Prejudice,” Schuyler calls Black No More “a satire on American Colorphobia.” G. S. Schuyler (1931), “Some Unsweet Truths about Race Prejudice,” in S. D. Schmalhausen, Behold America! (New York: Farrar & Rinehart).
W. E. B. Du Bois (1931) “The Browsing Reader,” The Crisis, 39 (March), 100.
In his important book on race and fascism, Gilroy refers to Black No More. He concedes that “Schuyler, a political conservative who was actively anti-communist, argues misanthropically that blacks and whites are absolutely alike in their moral capacities.” P. Gilroy (2000), Against Race: Imagining Political Culture beyond the Color Line (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 349.
I. Reed (1999), Introduction to Black No More (New York: The Modern Library), x.
G. S. Schuyler (1989), Black No More: Being an Account of the Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free, A.D. 1933–1940 (Boston: Northeastern University Press), 35.
The Pit The Pittsburgh Courier of October 1929 carried an article titled “Racial Metamorphosis Claimed by Scientists: The Japanese Says He Can Change Black Skin Into White.” See M. Peplow (1980), George S. Schuyler (Boston: Twayne Publishers), 57.
Seen against numerous other similar pseudoscientific publications addressing the issue of race, Yasaburo’s research ceases to sound so absurd. The first prize for absurdity should go to the publication deeply respected by racial eugenicists—R. B. Bean’s (1906) “Some Racial Peculiarities of the Negro Brain,” The American Journal of Anatomy, 5, 4, 353–432.
J. A. Tucker (1997), “Can Science Succeed Where the Civil War Failed? George S. Schuyler and Race,” in J. Jackson Fossett (ed.), Race Consciousness: African American Studies for the New Century (New York: New York University Press), 144.
Paul Gilroy (1993), The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 73.
D. J. Kevles (1995), In the Name of Eugenia: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).
See K. J. Cooke (2002), “Duty or Dream? Edwin G. Conklin’s Critique of Eugenics and Support for American Individualism,” Journal of the History of Biology, 35, 2 (Summer), 365–384;
J. A. Witkowski and J. R. Inglis (eds.) (2008), Davenport’s Dream: 21st Century Reflections on Heredity and Eugenics (New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory).
C. B. Davenport (1911), Heredity in Relation to Eugenics (New York: Henry Colt and Co.), 239.
D. Starr Jordan (1929), Foreword to Your Family Tree (New York: D. Appleton and Co.), v–vi.
G. S. Schuyler (1929), Racial Intermarriage in the United States (Girard: Haldeman-Julius).
Schuyler’s book may be considered as pioneering and a precursor to such discussions of interracial liaisons as Franz Fanon’s insightful two chapters “The Woman of Color and the White Man” and “The Man of Color and the White Woman,” in F. Fanon (1967), Black Skin, White Masks, C. Lam Markmann (trans.) (New York: Grove Press).
Given Schuyler’s personal and scholarly interest in the topic of interracial marriages, it is tempting to speculate that the upbringing of his only daughter, Philippa, was possibly not free from an ideological bias. See K. Talalay (1995), Composition in Black and White (New York: Oxford University Press).
For a discussion of African American use of eugenic rhetoric of racial and class uplift, see D. K. English (2004), Unnatural Selection: Eugenia in American Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press).
K. Miller (1917), “Eugenics of the Negro Race,” Scientific Monthly, 5, 1 (July), 57–59.
M. A. Lindquist (2012), Race, Social Science and the Crisis of Manhood, 1890–1970 (New York: Routledge), 49.
J. Nickel (2003), “Eugenics and the Fiction of Pauline Hopkins,” in L. A. Cuddy and C. M. Roche (eds.), Evolution and Eugenics in American Literature and Culture 1880–1940: Essays on Ideological Conflict and Complicity (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press), 133–147.
See D. English, Unnatural Selections; A. Douglas (1995), Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux);
and H. Carby (1998), Race Men (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).
W. E. B. Du Bois (1906), The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (New York: Schocken Books), 358–367.
W. E. B. Du Bois (1921), “To the World: Manifesto of the Second Pan-African Congress,” The Crisis, 23, 1 (November), 5–10.
L. Stoddard (1920), The Rising Tide of Color against White World Supremacy (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons), 14.
W. E. B. Du Bois (1915), “The African Roots of War,” Atlantic Monthly (May), 707–714; W. E. B. Du Bois (1975), Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil, with an introduction by H. Aptheker (Millwood, NY: Kraus-Thomson Organization Ltd). I owe my insight to Aptheker’s introduction (5–26).
L. S. Gagne (2011), “Mediating Eugenics: The Disenfranchised,” PhD dissertation, Binghamton University, State University of New York, 148.
W. E. B. Du Bois (2000), “Miscegenation”, in W. Sollors (ed.), Interracialism: Black-White Intermarriage in American History, Literature, and Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 471.
See W. Thurman (1998), Infants of the Spring (London: The X Press). Thurman’s critique of the eugenic program of necessary sterilizations received the most explicit manifestation in a scenario Thurman wrote for an antieugenic movie, Tomorrow’s Children (1934). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZEmlyHUUWM, date accessed August 24, 2014.
G. S. Schuyler (1937), “The Case for Integration,” The Black Scholar, 42:1, 19.
R. A. Hill and R. Kent Rasmussen (1991), afterword to G. S. Schuyler, Black Empire (Boston: Northeastern University Press), 260.
M. C. Thompson (2007), Black Fascism: African American Literature and Culture between the Wars (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press).
G. S. Schuyler (2001), “Rise of Black Internationale,” in J. B. Leak (ed.), Racing to the Right: Selected Essays of George S. Schuyler (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press), 32.
G. S. Schuyler (1991), Black Empire. R. A. Hill and R. Kent Rasmussen (eds.) (Boston: Northeastern University Press), 12.
Cited in Paul Gilroy (2000), “Black Fascism,” Transition, 81/82, 70–91.
See M. C. Thompson (1987), “The Myth of Marcus Garvey: Black Fascism and Nationalism,” in R. A. Hill and B. Bair (eds.), Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons: A Centennial Companion to the Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Papers (Berkeley: University of California Press), 45–71.
G. B. Schuyler (2001), “The Negro Question without Propaganda,” in Leak, Racing to the Right, 60.
© 2015 Ewa Barbara Luczak
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Luczak, E.B. (2015). Between “Chromatic Emancipation” and a Fascist State: Schuyler’s Black No More and Black Empire. In: Breeding and Eugenics in the American Literary Imagination. Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137545794_8
Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York
Print ISBN: 978-1-349-55493-5
Online ISBN: 978-1-137-54579-4
eBook Packages: Palgrave Media & Culture CollectionLiterature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)