George Schuyler: An Afrofuturist Before His Time

Jacob-lawrence-harlem-streetDanzy Senna at the NYRB:

Black No More argues compellingly, provocatively, that the idea of blackness is necessary in order for whiteness to survive. It is much like James Baldwin famously said: “What white people have to do is try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place, because I’m not a nigger. I’m a man, but if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it.… If I’m not a nigger and you invented him—you, the white people, invented him—then you’ve got to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that, whether or not it’s able to ask that question.”

Schuyler shows all the ways white people are lost without black people to define themselves against. In one late, amazing scene in Black No More, the pastor of a failing white church in the South is grieving the loss of black people after they’ve all turned white. He is grieving the fact that there is nobody left for him to lynch—and without black bodies to lynch, the white parishioners will never know the pastor’s true greatness.

Schuyler dedicated Black No More to “all Caucasians in the great republic who can trace their ancestry back ten generations and confidently assert that there are no Black leaves, twigs, limbs or branches on their family trees.” Before it had been confirmed by social scientists, he understood that there was no such thing as race as a real, biologically determined category.

more here.