The Representation Negritude Essay

Negritude was a cultural motion initiated by the Afro- American poets populating in the Caribbean Islands which aimed at the waking up of the race consciousness and the sense of individuality among the black people. Paralleled by other similar motions. like the Harlem Renaissance in America. Negritude endeavored to redefine the black civilization and to salvage it from the white domineering influence that promised to absorb it in its ain constructions. Besides. the Negritude was an anti-racist watercourse which criticized the white people’s attitude towards the people of a different race.

One of the most of import poets of Negritude was Aime Cesaire. an African-american Born in Martinique at the beginning of the 20th century. The term “Negritude” was at first used and defined by him in his Notebook of a Return to a Native Land. Cesaire criticized for illustration. the fixed position on inkiness that the white civilization promoted and encouraged the Afro- Americans to value their civilization as something alive. As he emphasizes. the black civilization is non a rock. that is. something stiff and dead but instead something alive. that “plunges into the ruddy flesh of the soil” and that “riddles with holes” :

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“my Negritude is non a rock / nor a hearing loss flung against the blare of the twenty-four hours / my Negritude is non a white pinpoint of dead H2O / on the dead oculus of the Earth /my Negritude is neither tower nor cathedral / it plunges into the ruddy flesh of the dirt /it plunges into the blazing flesh of the sky / my Negritude riddles with holes /the heavy affliction of its worthy forbearance. “ ( Cesaire. 1990. 17 ) However. although Negritude was an rational motion that was centered on larning to cognize and understand distinctness. it failed to incorporate gender as good.

At the beginning. the motion was led merely by male militants and authors. and accordingly. the black adult females were represented purely from the masculine position. Therefore. some of the black adult females started another motion within Negritude that could be called black feminism. They felt that neither Negritude nor Feminism represented in the right mode. since the black cultural motion was led by work forces and the white women’s rightists that had already formed rational groups like that of Gertrude Stein for illustration. were really nescient of the status of the black adult female.

The Afro- American adult female had a different individuality than the white adult female. and faced even more favoritism from society because of her race. She was twice oppressed by the others. as a adult female and as a coloured individual at the same clip. and had no discourse of her ain. Many of the male poets of the Negritude radius of the black adult females in their plants. but when they did. they represented them simply as female parents or lovers. that is. in the same offices that the diehard society had ever seen them. The function of the adult female was purely that of the female parent or married woman of adult male. hence secondary. as in the white cultural discourse.

At the same clip. although the white women’s rightists represented the invisibility of adult females in general. the black adult females with their specific background were absent from their discourse. The black poets of the Negritude motion such as Langston Hughes. Aime Cesaire or Leopold Sedar Senghor represent adult females as either female parents or lovers. or even mere objects for desire. For illustration. Langston Hughes The Negro Mother represents the black adult female as a fabulous mother-figure. who “carries the seed” of the race.

The adult female is seen basically as a bearer of man’ seed chiefly. the beginning of all things. The function that Hughes attributes to adult females is really of import and is likely inspired by the traditional antediluvian matriarchic African position of the universe. but the adult females are still non represented harmonizing to their individuality. They are symbolic female parent figures that suffers for her race and protects her people: “I am the dark miss who crossed the ruddy sea / Carrying in my organic structure the seed of the free. /I am the adult female who worked in the field /Bringing the cotton and the maize to give.

/I am the 1 who labored as a slave. /Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave — /Children sold off from me. I’m hubby sold. excessively. /No safety. no love. no regard was I due [ … ] ” ( Hughes. 1989. 77 ) The adult female described by Hughes feels happy and fulfilled non because of what she is. but. in the traditional manner. because of her sufferance and forfeit and because of the kids she bore: “Now. through my kids. immature and free. /I realized the blessing title to me. /I couldn’t read so. I couldn’t write. /I had nil. back at that place in the dark.

/Sometimes. the vale was filled with cryings. /But I kept sloging on through the alone old ages. /Sometimes. the route was hot with the Sun. /But I had to maintain on boulder clay my work was done [ … ] ” ( Hughes. 1989. 77 ) Besides. it is obvious that the adult female has a rear function. although apparently an of import 1: she is the 1 that encourages the race to contend for their freedom and to maintain traveling. The black adult female stands in the shadow holding simply a protective motherly map: “Lift high my streamer out of the dust. /Stand like free work forces back uping my trust. /Believe in the right. allow none push you back.

/Remember the whip and the slaver’s path. [ … ] /For I will be with you till no white brother Dares maintain down the kids of the Negro Mother. ” ( Hughes. 1989. 77 ) The same thing happens in another verse form by Hughes. entitled Mother to Son – the adult female is the female parent who encourages her boy to travel frontward. and non be set back by any sort of obstructions: “So. male child. don’t you turn back. / Don’t you set down on the stairss. /’Cause you finds it’s kinder difficult. / Don’t you fall now—/ For I’se still goin’ . honey. / I’se still climbin’ . / And life for me ain’t been no crystal step.

” ( Hughes. 1989. 100 ) Leopold Senghor besides represents the adult female as a female parent. but this clip in a subjective mode as he addresses the verse form to his ain female parent. The verse form is about written in a admonitory tone that criticizes the female parent for non being caring plenty. “you do non hear me when I hear you” . Senghor hence besides views maternity as the indispensable function of any adult female. a function in which it would be inexcusable for her to neglect: “Be Blessed. Mother! / I will non direct the East Wind over these sacred images as over/ the littorals of the route.

You do non hear me when I hear you. like an dying mother/ who forgets to force Button A/ But I will non obliterate the footmarks of my male parent or of my/ father’s male parents in this caput open to all the air currents and loots of the North. / Mother. in this survey lined with Latin and Greek. breathe the/ exhausts of the eventide victims of my bosom. / May the protecting liquors save my blood from slowing like/ that of the assimilated and the civilised! ” ( Senghor. 1976. 134 ) One of the really good known verse forms by Senghor called Black Woman. represents the female in the function of the lover this clip.

The erotism of the lines clearly hint at the traditional adult female who is hunted and wooed by adult male. “moaning under the custodies of the conqueror” : “Naked adult female. dark woman/ Ripe fruit with house flesh. dark ecstasies of black vino. / Mouth that gives music to my mouth/ Savanna of clear skylines. savanna quaking to the ardent caress/ Of the East Wind. sculptured tom-tom. stretched drumskin/ Groaning under the custodies of the conqueror/ Your deep contralto voice is the religious vocal of the / Beloved. “ ( Senghor. 1976. 156 ) The black adult female is seen as an alien female lover. and the African scene suites the description:

“Woman. remainder on my forehead your balsam custodies. your hands/ gentler than pelt. / The tall thenar trees singing in the dark wind/ Hardly rustling. Not even cradle vocals. / The rhythmic silence stones us. /Listen to its vocal. listen to the whipping of our dark blood. / listen / To the whipping of the dark pulsation of Africa in the mist of lost/ small towns. ” ( Senghor. 1976. 157 ) In the terminal. the poet jealously proclaims himself as the writer of the vocal about the black adult female. She is trapped in his discourse. as his creative activity. and she depends on his composing so as to be a portion of the ageless universe:

“Naked adult female. dark woman/ Oil that no breath frills. unagitated oil on the athlete’s wings of the Princes of Mali/ Gazelle limbed in Paradise [ … ] I sing your beauty that passes/ the signifier that I fix in the ageless. /Before covetous destiny bend you to ashes to feed the roots of life. ” ( Senghor. 159 ) Therefore. the black adult female is basically dominated by the male discourse. She is the oil on the athlete’s limbs. that is. a sexual component that is used for pleasance. In another verse form by Hughes. the adult female once more appears as conquered and dominated by adult male.

He promises her to take to do her wholly his and to be as a God for her: “I will take you bosom. / I will take your psyche out of your body/ As though I were God. / I will non be satisfied With the touch of your hand/ Nor the Sweet of your lips entirely. / I will take your bosom for mine. / I will take your psyche. / I will be God when it comes to you. ” ( Hughes. 1989. 122 ) Aime Cesaire Prophecy is besides really edifying for the manner in which adult females were viewed in Negritude. The poet makes a prognostication about a clip when. among other things. adult females will “shine Forth with language” . that is. will hold their ain discourses.

The fact that this is a prognostication is an obvious recognition of the fact that adult females are non as yet talkers. neither for themselves nor for other affairs in society: “There. / Where adventure keeps clear its eye/ Where adult females are reflecting Forth with language/ Where decease is beautiful in your manus as a bird/ milky time/ Where the subterraneous transition through its own/ genuflecting gathers a wealth of palpebras fiercer than caterpillars/ Where for the admiration it’s all grist and fire to the agile factory [ … ] ” ( Cesaire. 1990. 83 )

aques Lacan observed that the image of negritude itself was phallic. as it tried to restore the black adult male as a maestro. or a individual that is no longer oppressed: “The image of Negritude as phallus serves several maps for the topic. As a disciplinary device. it revalorizes the black adult male. symbolically castrated throughout the text by the forces of subjugation. It is the perfect metaphor for the desired brotherhood between the topic and cardinal forces in nature. ” ( Kalikoff. 1995. 23 ) Because the black adult females could non happen themselves in these representations that Negritude offered. they tried to organize their ain individuality.

Womans such as Sharpley- Whiting. Suzanne Cesaire and the Nardal sisters formed rational groups that discussed black feminism. As Mori observes in her article. in Sharpley- Whiting’s works adult females are no longer marginalized as intellectuals: “The motion is by and large examined through the plants of male authors. such as Aime Cesaire. Leopold Sedar Senghor. and Leon Damas. Sharpley-Whiting. nevertheless. counters the male-centered readings and offers a new mentality on the gender political relations within the Negritude motion.

Sharpley-Whiting argues that the male leaders of the motion marginalized black female intellectuals such as Jane and Paulette Nardal and Suzanne Cesaire from Martinique. ” ( Mori. 2003. 658 ) In her book entitled Negritude Women. Sharpley- Whiting discusses the absence of the black adult females from the representation of the white women’s rightist: “Barney set up a ‘formal. ’ basically white women’s rightist settlement that transcended category. and Stein preferred to cultivate dealingss with a preponderantly male Gallic and American exile community in her ‘casual’ Parisian salon. ” ( Sharpley- Whiting 2002. 34 )

The chief point that the writer tried to do in her book was that the adult females needed to derive an rational position. merely like the adult male. and to hold their ain discourse: “Suzanne Roussy-Cesaire’s rational bequest has suffered the destiny of many gifted adult females married to outstanding men—marginalization. ” ( Sharpley- Whiting 2002. 12 ) Lurnka Funani observed besides that the kernel of the Afro- American women’s rightist motion was to turn to the jobs specific to Negritude. but to include the female position as good: “The inquiry that tore the conference apart was ‘Should white adult females present documents about black women’s experiences?

This inquiry was raised by an African-american. Before this inquiry was addressed. the following inquiry was asked. ‘What do American adult females know about the battle in Africa? ‘ “ ( Coetzee. 2001. 344 ) Although it was acknowledged that all adult females were oppressed. the black adult females felt it necessary to talk for themselves and to take their ain individuality: “ [ … ] A cardinal dogma of modern women’s rightist idea has been the averment that ‘all adult females are oppressed’ . This averment implies that adult females portion a common batch. that factors like category. race. faith. sexual penchant. etc. make non make a diverseness of experience that determines the extent to which sexism will be an oppressive force in the lives of single adult females.

Sexism as a system of domination is institutionalized but it has ne’er determined in an absolute manner the destiny of all adult females in this society. Being oppressed means the absence of picks [ … ] ” ( Coetzee. 2001. 345 ) The black adult females appear therefore as really of import agents in the Negritude motion. since they included the losing portion – a discourse of the black female that could be the opposite number of that of the black adult male.

The adult females appeared slightly later in the chronologic line of the motion. which was ab initio coordinated by work forces merely. The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice may function as a good commentary for the job of feminism in Negritude. Thus. Orpheus was a the figure of the poet and the vocalist that enthralled everyone with his vocal. to the point that his hearers became about spellbound when they heard him. When his lover Eurydice dies he goes after her in the Inferno and manages to convert the guards to put her free with his lyre.

However. he loses her once more because he looks back to see if she followed him out of the underworld. The myth can be compared with the manner in which adult females are represented by work forces in the Negritude discourse. as dependent on the man’s vocal or authorship. as bound down by the enchantment of the male address. As Orpheus fails to salvage Eurydice so adult male failed to stand for the black adult female in his Negritude discourse. Reference List: Cesaire. A. 1990. Lyric and dramatic poesy 1946-82. Charlottesville: University of Vancouver Press. Cesaire. A.

2001. Notebook of a return to the native land. Middletown: Methodist University Press Coetzee. J. P. 2001. The African doctrine reader. New York: Routledge. Kalikoff. Hedy. 1995 “Gender. Genre and Geography in Aime Cesaire’s Cahier d’un retour gold wages natal. ” in Callaloo. Vol. 18. No. 2. pp. 492-505. Mori. A. . 2003. “Negritude Women. ” African American Review. Vol. 37 Senghor. L. S. 1976. Prose and poesy. London: Heinemann Educational. Sharpley- Whiting. 2002. Negritude adult females. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.