Volume 12, Issue 1/2, 2009
Art, Praxis, and Social Transformation
Richard A. Jones
The Politics of Black Fictive Space
Historically, for Black writers, literary fiction has been a site for transforming the discursive disciplinary spaces of political oppression. From 19th century “slave narratives” to the 20th century, Black novelists have created an impressive literary counter-canon in advancing liberatory struggles. W.E.B. Du Bois argued that “all art is political.” Many Black writers have used fiction to create spaces for political and social freedom—from the early work of Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859)—to the enduring works of the Harlem Renaissance (Toomer, Hurston, and Schuyler)—to the great revolutionary Black literature after WWII (Wright, Baldwin, Williams)—to contemporary Black writers (Toni Morrison, Edward Jones, Samuel Delany)—Black fictive space continues to be a necessary site for resistance. Black literary fiction is a vast counter-canon to mainstream literature which unquestioningly reinforces global white supremacy, capitalistic political oppressions, and the dominance/subordinance relations upon which they depend.