The Western Journal of Black Studies

Volume 32, Issue 1

Colonial Gazing: The Production of the Body as “Other”
George Yancy—Duquesne University

This article is written to curtail historical elision, serving as a reminder of the horrors of colonial domination through an explication of how forms of colonialism – from Columbus to the objectification and mutilation of Sarah Bartmann – function at the discursive and ideological level of engaging in various disciplinary strategies that fix the colonized as savage, fit to be ruled, and animal-like. This explication elucidates processes of interpellation of the colonized through the colonial gaze as structured through the white/European imaginary. The European imaginary, shaped through a powerful Manichean divide, is shown to be parasitic upon the dehumanization of colonized others. European “civilizing,” which is a trope for domination and exploitation, was deemed by Europeans as a form of “historical necessity,” even as it meant the social, psychic or physical death of the colonized.
pp. 1-15

Subverting the History of Slavery and Colonization
in the Poetry of M. Al-Fayturi and Langston Hughes

Saddik Mohamed Gohar—United Arab Emirates University

In his attempt to challenge colonial hegemony and promote the colonized sense of identity, the African poet, Mohamed Al-Fayturi is engaged in an intercultural dialogue with his mintor, the African American poet, Langston Hughes, in order to reconstruct a history devastated by slavery and imperialism. Rooted in a revolutionary basis, the mutual dialogue between the two poets aims to dismantle colonial narratives about Africa and the black people by revising history and rewriting the story of slavery and colonization from the viewpoint of the colonized and the oppressed. Carrying the scars of enslavement and hegemony, Langston Hughes and Mohamed Al-Fayturi poetically engage the history of racism and colonization linking the African literary tradition with its counterpart in the United States.
pp. 16-29

The Civil Death of Mrs. Hedges and the Dilemma
of Double Consciousness

Jane Rosenberg LaForge—New York University

Toni Morrison’s call to investigate the strange status of Blacks in early American literature as written by whites can result in new insights on African American characters created by Blacks. Mrs. Hedges, the fire-scarred madam of Ann Petry’s The street, is an example. This business savvy, physically strong woman is unable to fulfill her original ambition—finding love—because of her civil death. Civil death is a legal and metaphysical condition peculiar to African Americans in literature. Yet this status also speaks to Mrs. Hedges’ uniqueness as an African American-inspired character, and one that instructs how the DuBoisian notion of double consciousness affects the pursuit of the American dream.
pp. 30-41

Environmental Justice and Katrina: A Senseless Environmental Disaster
Glenn S. Johnson—Clark Atlanta University

All Americans Black and White are shocked by the failed evacuation of residents from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast states. The environmental justice framework assists the researcher in identifying the basic assumptions that may contribute to our understanding of the differential and unequal protections of emergency planning, emergency management, and evacuation of an environmental disaster like Hurricane Katrina. This natural disaster questioned the ethical and political questions of 1) who get rescued and who does not, 2) why was the evacuation prolonged and delayed for mostly blacks, poor whites, disabled individuals, and the elderly, and 3) how much financial, medical, and social services assistance will these individuals receive from our federal government. This article takes a snapshot at the public health, educational, economic and housing development, transportation inequities, and rebuilding efforts of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The author uses the environmental justice framework to examine, analyze, critique, and describe the racial and social inequalities experienced by African Americans as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
pp. 42-52

Has the Revolution Been Specified?
A Critical Assessment of the Status of Research on
the Voting Rights Act and Black Politics

Arnold Lewis—William Paterson University

August 6, 2007 represented the 42nd anniversary of the enactment of the Voting Rights Act. Scholars have documented a great deal of the legacy of the VRA in terms of the voter registration, the initial white resistance to reform, classic legal battles, and the rise of black elected officials (BEOS) that ensued. However, intensive and systematic evaluation of the legacy of the VRA in the communities that served as the crucible for its genesis (primarily rural, small town or medium sized cities in the Deep South) is noticeably scarce. Thus, the goals of this essay are two-fold: 1) to critically examine and review the questions scholars have addressed when studying the Voting Rights Revolution, and 2) to empirically make the case for the need of greater specification of the consequences of this Revolution in terms of the politics of governance in the smaller communities of the South where a substantial number of the “protected” class continues to reside. I argue that such information would bolster our knowledge of the post-1965 Black Political Experience (particularly in the South) and provide more systematic and empirical evidence of the places in greatest need of continued voting rights supervision.
pp. 53-61

The Changing Roles of African American Grand-mothers
Raising Grandchildren: An Exploratory Study in
the Piedmont Region of North Carolina

Dorothy S. Ruiz—The University of North Carolina, Charlotte

This article presents a descriptive and qualitative analysis of custodial African American grandmothers. Using a cross-sectional design, a sample of 99 custodial African American grandmothers caring for one or more grandchildren were included in the analysis. The grandmothers ranged in age from 38 to 88, with an average of 58. Almost three quarters of the grandmothers, or 74%, were single heads of household. The average years of schooling was 11.5. The average income $21, 100. Grandmothers reported a number of reasons for caring for their grandchildren. More than a third reported neglect and drug abuse of parents as reasons for providing care to their grandchildren. The majority of the grandmothers had taken care of their grandchildren since birth or shortly thereafter. Grandmothers took care of their grandchildren for an average of 7 years. The majority of the grandmothers in the study enjoyed taking care of their grandchildren (60%); about 20% had mixed feelings; and another 20% felt angry and trapped and did not enjoy being a custodial caregiver. Changing demographics have influenced the caregiving roles of grandmothers in African American families. This suggests the need for additional research, particularly on demographic and family issues; and aggressive innovative intervention programs to strengthen caregiving families are recommended.
pp. 62-71

Book Reviews

Black Power in the Belly of the Beast
Author: Judson L. Jeffries
Reviewer: William Arp III, Louisiana State University
pp. 72-73

White Money/Black Power: The Surprising History of African American Studies and the Crisis of Race in Higher Education
Author: Noliwe Rooks
Reviewer: Jonathan Fenderson,
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Black on Black Urban Youth Films and the Multicultural Audience
Author: Celeste A. Fisher
Reviewer: Sherrow O. Pinder,
California State University, Chico


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