The Western Journal of Black Studies

Volume 22, Issue 3



The Norm of Legitimacy in the Black Family
Richard A. Davis

Stephen Steinberg (1989: ix) maintains that ethnicity is a myth used to explain differences in group behavior without having to give serious consideration to situational factors. Under this hypothesis ethnicity is a measure of cultural adroitness, and personality, family, and community development are mere reflections of it. Over the years this myth has led to some rather invidious comparisons between blacks and whites and between native and foreign-born blacks (Reid, 1939/1970; Sowell, 1975; 1981). Steinberg’s ethnic mythology hypothesis implies that these differences are situational and experiential, not cultural (compare Lieberson, 1980 and Sowell, 1981). In this paper I use this hypothesis to examine Malinowski’s (1927) claim that each culture has its own reproductive standards (i.e., its own “Norm of Legitimacy”). Mariam Slater (1977), however, has argued that in the black family, especially those of Caribbean extraction. I tested this gypothesis and found little support for it. I then discussed the implications of this finding for the myth of black ethnicity.


Exploding the Canon: A Re-Examination of Wallace Thurman’s Assualt on the Harlem Renaissance
Daniel E. Walker

Although Wallace Thurman is a well-recognized figure of the Harlem Renaissance, scholarly treatments of him tend to misinterpret his role in the period. Thurman’s life is usually used as an example of the tragic end of the era or he is characterized as a bright, yet demonic, cynic who was devoured by his inability to live up to his own high expectations. While there is validity in each of these portrayals, they both divert attention from Thurman’s role as the ideological leader of the younger set of Renaissance artists. These depictions also minimize the effects his efforts had on developing unencumbered creative space for writers whose works fell outside of the proposed literary canon.


The Last Ship that Brought Slaves from Africa to America:
The Landing of the Clotilde at Mobile in the Autumn of 1859
James D. Lockett

In 1858, during a trip to Montgomery on his steamboat, Robert B. Taney, Captain Timothy Meaher conceived of the voyage of the Clotilde. Captain Meaher bet some eastern gentlemen $100,000 that he could bring some Africans to Mobile without getting caught. He decided to get the slaves from the King of Dahomey because his kingdom was one of the chief slave trading states in Africa, and at the time, the trade was thriving in Dahomey where slaves were plentiful and cheap. There the captain secured 116 Tarkars, and within a few weeks successfully passed through a virtual blockade designed to prevent slave ships from landing at ports in the United States. The authorities moved in on Meaher quickly, he was arrested, charged and released on bond. Because of the Civil War and the inability of the United States government to prove its case, Meaher was released. An exhaustive search of the literature indictes the Clotilde was the last ship tht brought Africans to America a slaves.


Blacks and High Profile Statewide Office: 1966–1996
Judson L. Jeffries

This is a comprehensive and systematic study of the election campaigns of all blacks who have run for high profile statewide office from 1966 to 1996. Using the flagship news dailies for each state where elections were held the author compares and contrasts the winners and losers in order to explain why blacks have experienced little success at the statewide level and what they need to do in order to win high profile statewide elections. The author also uses in-depth interviews with former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke and Governor L. Douglas Wilder to augment the secondary sources used. The author notes that because whites are reluctant to vote for black candidates, particularly black high profile statewide aspirants, blacks have to serve an appropriate political apprenticeship have strong party support and implement an effective deracialized campaign strategy if they hope to offset the potential damaging effects of race. This does not mean tht abstention or defection among white  voters will cease, only that the above factors will help to reduce the degree to which that behavior occurs.


Family Community Secrets: Secrecy in the Works of James Baldwin
Tunde Adeleke

The paper critically examines two paradigms that are central to the Africa- Black America nexus: Pan-Africanism and Identity. It contends that the present surge of Pan-African consciousness and moves toward regenerating the Pan-African tradition have to be considered in the context of the historical trajectories and experiences of Africans and blacks in diaspora. It further contends that there are serious problems of identity among both black Americans and Africans. It critiques the African identity construct (forcefully defended in Afrocentrism) which characterized black Americans as Africans, and suggests that black American identity is much too complex, and has to be situated within the broader context of new world acculturation.


Headline to Headlights: Oscar Micheaux’s Exploitation of the Rhinelander Case
Charlene Regester

Oscar Micheaux, an African American writer and filmmaker who has emerged as one of the prolific African American filmmakers in cinema history, promoted and linked several of his films to the court case known as the Rhinelander Case. Rhinelander was a wealthy white millionaire who married an African American woman in the mid-1920s. The trial overturned the forced annulment and validated the marriage, despite the racial and sexual politics that dominated the discourse of this period. The article explores the African American press’ sensationalizing of the Rhinelander Case and Micheaux’s strategic exploitation of the media attention, linking it with his films, employing marketing and promotional strategies to generate appeal for his works among African American cinema audiences.


Book Reviews

Psychoanalysis and Black Novels: Desire and the Protocols of Race
Author: Claudia Tate
Reviewed By: Clara B. Jones and Matthew V. Johnson




The WJBS site is normally maintained by
Tanya Gonzales
. Please feel free to e-mail comments, queries, and suggestions.



Heading using the h3 tag

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.