Prove It On Me: New Negroes, Sex, and Popular Culture in the 1920s

Paperback | March 9, 2012

byErin Chapman

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In the wake of the Great Migration of thousands of African Americans from the scattered hamlets and farms of the rural South to the nation's burgeoning cities, a New Negro ethos of modernist cultural expression and potent self-determination arose to challenge white supremacy and createopportunities for racial advancement. In Prove It On Me, Erin D. Chapman explores the gender and sexual politics of this modern racial ethos and reveals the constraining and exploitative underside of the New Negro era's vaunted liberation and opportunities. Chapman's cultural history documents theeffects on black women of the intersection of primitivism, New Negro patriarchal aspirations, and the early twentieth-century consumer culture. As U.S. society invested in the New Negroes, turning their expressions and race politics into entertaining commodities in a sexualized, primitivist popular culture, the New Negroes invested in the idea of black womanhood as a pillar of stability against the unsettling forces of myriad social andracial transformations. And both groups used black women's bodies and identities to "prove" their own modern notions and new identities. Chapman's analysis brings together advertisements selling the blueswoman to black and white consumers in a "sex-race marketplace," the didactic preachments of NewNegro reformers advocating a conservative gender politics of "race motherhood," and the words of the New Negro women authors and migrants who boldly or implicitly challenged these dehumanizing discourses. Prove It On Me investigates the uses made of black women's bodies in 1920s popular culture andracial politics and black women's opportunities to assert their own modern, racial identities.

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In the wake of the Great Migration of thousands of African Americans from the scattered hamlets and farms of the rural South to the nation's burgeoning cities, a New Negro ethos of modernist cultural expression and potent self-determination arose to challenge white supremacy and createopportunities for racial advancement. In Prove It O...

Erin D. Chapman is Assistant Professor of History at George Washington University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:March 9, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199758328

ISBN - 13:9780199758326

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionRace and Sex in the Wake of the Great Migration1. Oscar Micheaux's Within Our Gates and the Emergence of the New Negro2. Mothering the Race: New Negro Progressivism and the Work of Racial Advancement3. Consuming the New Negro: The Whirlpools of the Sex-Race Marketplace4. Good Women: Race Motherhood, Sexuality, Self-Determination, and the Nature of Oppression in the Words of New Negro WomenNotesBibliographyIndex