Different writers have come up with different ideas about the African American Art. This can be analyzed by looking at the two works of Dubois and Langston. In the essay Criteria of Negro Art by Dubois, he raises four main issues regarding the African American Art. The first idea developed here is that of beauty of the works of art by the African Americans. Beauty here refers to the universal one, classical and the Trans historical. He clearly puts the idea that beauty can be well defined in African American works of art. They are in a better position to imagine how the world could be if it were considered a beautiful world and thus include it in their works of art. Secondly, Dubois developed the idea that the purpose of art is a mere propaganda. He says that he doesn’t consider any work of art the best if it doesn’t raise the issue of propaganda in it. He believes that any work of art should reflect on beauty as well as securing rights of the people. Finally, Dubois also concerned with the criteria in which the African American works of art shall be judged (Black American Literature Forum). He agrees on there being similarities in the Africans American and the white’s works of art, but he is specifically concerned on how the two works shall be differentiated from each other. The recognition should be used to portray humanity of the author.
Langston Hughes on the other hand has also developed quite a number of ideas about the African American art in his text The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain. He has been described by many as the true articulation of the Harlem renaissance period. He raised the idea of the African Americans showing their desire to become like the whites in their works of art. He clearly tells of how one of the African American poets longed to be a poet and not a Negro poet. A race towards whiteness by the African Americans has been illustrated by Langston in this text. Secondly, he brings out the idea of the working African Americans showing the entire stereotype portrayed in their works. He urges them to be respectable and write about different pleasant themes such as how well the white people are and not necessarily shattering illusions about the whites in their works.
There are a number of obstacles faced by the African American women writers as illustrated in the text Damnation of Women by Dubois. As defined earlier, Dubois put it clear that any work of art should bring out propaganda especially in securing the rights of the people. He states that all the African American women face the obstacle of discrimination in their works of art. They discriminated against due to their race and gender, the fact that they are women. Dubois gives a solution to the above obstacle by stating that all the works of art should be based on fighting and respecting the rights of all writers including the African American women writers. He emphasizes that the black women writers should be given a right to love and enjoy their literature materials without any unnecessary criticism. Women feminism is another obstacle talked about by Dubois in the text, damnation of Women (Collins, et al. (2004) p. 87). There were white feminists who looked down upon the African American women writers.
More obstacles have been analyzed by Marita Bonner in the text On Being Young a Woman and Colored. Marita Bonner was an American writer whose work is majorly based on the times of Harlem renaissance. She clearly portrays the struggles of those who lived outside the Harlem. She greatly involved her works on issues concerning racial and gender identity. She fought against obstacles such as sexism and racism faced by black women writers. She advised them to remain silent so as to gain understanding; the truth and knowledge in ordered to be better placed in fighting the oppression of gender and race. She highly encouraged the African American women writers to apply the weapon of teaching, knowledge and writing in fighting the obstacles of inequalities. She greatly wrote on issues faced by the black women writers in an attempt to gain the Harlem renaissance aspect of self-improvement gained through education as well as issues dealing with religion, discrimination, poverty and family.
Many works of literature during the times of Nella Larsen were created for Africans Americans. It’s during this time whereby the African Americans were encouraged to be proud of them. (Wall, Cheryl A.(1986) p. 47). The knowledge and self-awareness were very crucial in the works of literature then. Unfortunately, some writers began pointing out the dark side of the relationships especially the pessimistic relations regarding race in America. In the novel Passing by Nella Larsen’s, talks about this idea through how the characters are portrayed and the relationship they have with each other. He tells the story of Clare Kendry who is claimed to pass as a white person. The passing generally illustrates the difficulties experienced in human relationships. The passing too is taken as a representative of the dilemma created by the tragic mulatto. Clare may not be termed as the classic mulatto but through her actions we can conclude that she belongs to the group termed literary heroines. She passes so as to assure that her life is steadier. (Baker Jr, (2013) p. 71) From the time she is young, her desire to carry out things develop. This was greatly influenced after her father died who was an African American and Clare was left in the hands of her white aunts. Clare thus begins to admire the life of the whites more than what she has being an African American. In order to achieve her desires, she marries John Bellew who is a white man. She gets brainwashed and deceived to believe that she is white. She finally decides to rebuff everything regarding her family, folk background, girlhood, language as well as the many people that went ahead of her. She clearly gets it that that was the only means of getting the middle-class permanence she admires. The reality is that Clare has to deny her identity so as to feel in the world of the whites. She thus ends up her life becoming a lie. On page 168 Clare describes how she nearly died of terror in fear of getting a black child after the nine months of pregnancy. She gets nicknamed as Nig by her husband as she became darker day by day. On contrary the husband is very supportive and doesn’t seem to care a lot about the color of their daughter. The author Nella Larsen advocates for the appreciation of all the people regardless of their color or race. This has been achieved through the relationship of Clare who was an African American and her white husband.
Various texts have been used to depict the image of Africa by the Harlem renaissance writers. This includes works such as Africa for the Africans by Marcus Garvey and the future as I see it by Claude McKay. The writers have helped dispel the belief that blacks had lost their culture in attempt to become like the whites. Marcus Garvey text tries to connect the African American to the culture of the blacks back in Africa. Many Africans who had become slaves in America had lost their touch of African culture (Images of Africa in Black American Literature). On the other hand, the Harlem renaissance writers took Africa as a place of origin. This was not just origin of the black slaves but that of life. It was depicted as a source of life. Harlem renaissance writer’s incorporated Africa into their works of literature. The back Americans after being freed from slavery started viewing themselves in relation to America and the world. In early 20th century, Africans in America discovered history that placed them at a higher place in the United States beyond their slavery.
The Harlem renaissance writers depicted Africa as the source of African American culture until to date. The evocations based on Africa have thus been included by Harlem renaissance writers in their works. Africa since then became a pride for all American writers. This has gained higher positive status in America to a point of even electing an African American as the president in the US. Africa has also been viewed as a source of nobility and dignity.