Edited by Azizi Powell
This pancocojams post presents excerpts from three online articles about the "Négritude".
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EXCERPTS ABOUT NEGRITUDE
These excerpts are given in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only.
From http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africanaage/essay-negritude.html "Négritude"
[written by] Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum –Lehman College
"Négritude is a cultural movement launched in 1930s Paris by French-speaking black graduate students from France's colonies in Africa and the Caribbean territories. These black intellectuals converged around issues of race identity and black internationalist initiatives to combat French imperialism. They found solidarity in their common ideal of affirming pride in their shared black identity and African heritage, and reclaiming African self-determination, self–reliance, and self–respect. The Négritude movement signaled an awakening of race consciousness for blacks in Africa and the African Diaspora. This new race consciousness, rooted in a (re)discovery of the authentic self, sparked a collective condemnation of Western domination, anti-black racism, enslavement, and colonization of black people. It sought to dispel denigrating myths and stereotypes linked to black people, by acknowledging their culture, history, and achievements, as well as reclaiming their contributions to the world and restoring their rightful place within the global community.
The Roots of Négritude
The movement is deeply rooted in Pan-African congresses, exhibitions, organizations, and publications produced to challenge the theory of race hierarchy and black inferiority developed by philosophers such as Friedrich Hegel and Joseph de Gobineau. Diverse thinkers influenced this rehabilitation process, including anthropologists Leo Frobenius and Maurice Delafosse, who wrote on Africa; colonial administrator René Maran, who penned the seminal ethnographic novel Batouala: Véritable roman négre, an eyewitness account of abuses and injustices within the French colonial system; André Breton, the father of Surrealism; French romantics Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire; Haitian Jean-Price Mars, who developed the concept of Indigenism; Haitian anthropologist Anténor Firmin and Cuban Nicolás Guillén, who promoted Negrismo.
Of major significance are the Harlem Renaissance intellectuals who fled to France to escape racism and segregation in the United States. Prominent among them were Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Richard Wright, and Claude McKay. McKay, who bemoaned divisions of blacks, was acclaimed by Senegalese poet and politician Léopold Sédar Senghor as the spiritual founder of Négritude values. Senghor argued that "far from seeing in one's blackness inferiority, one accepts it; one lays claim to it with pride; one cultivates it lovingly." Pan-Africanist leader Marcus Garvey similarly implored his peers: "Negroes, teach your children that they are direct descendants of the greatest and proudest race who ever peopled the earth."...
"Négritude is a framework of critique and literary theory, developed mainly by francophone intellectuals, writers, and politicians of the African diaspora during the 1930s. Its initiators included Martinican poet Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor (the first President of Senegal), and Léon Damas of French Guiana. Négritude intellectuals disavowed colonialism, and argued for the importance of a Pan-African racial identity among people of African descent worldwide.
The term négritude is a construction which appropriates the derogatory word niger, used to refer to people (in French) as nègre, so largely used exclusively in a racist context. The movement's use of the word négritude is a way of re-imagining the word as an emic form of empowerment. The term was first used in its present sense by Césaire, in the third issue of L'Étudiant noir, a magazine which he had started in Paris with fellow students Léopold Senghor and Léon Damas, as well as Gilbert Gratiant, Leonard Sainville, Louis T. Achille, Aristide Maugée, and Paulette Nardal. L'Étudiant noir also includes Césaire's first published work, Conscience Raciale et Révolution Sociale with the heading "Les Idées" and the rubric "Négreries", which is notable for its disavowal of assimilation as a valid strategy for resistance and for its use of the word nègre as a positive term. The problem with assimilation was that one assimilated into a culture that considered African culture to be barbaric and unworthy of being seen as "civilized". The assimilation into this culture would have been seen as an implicit acceptance of this view. Nègre previously had been used mainly in a pejorative sense. Césaire deliberately incorporated this derogatory word into the name of his philosophy.
In 1885, Haitian anthropologist Anténor Firmin published an early work De l'Égalité des Races Humaines (On the Equality of Human Races), which was published as a rebuttal to French writer Count Arthur de Gobineau's Essai sur l'inegalite des Races Humaines (An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races). Firmin influenced Jean Price-Mars, the initiator of Haitian ethnology and developer of the concept of Indigenism, and 20th-century American anthropologist Melville Herskovits. Black intellectuals have historically been proud of Haiti due to its slave revolution commanded by Toussaint L'Ouverture during the 1790s. Césaire spoke, thus, of Haiti as being "where négritude stood up for the first time".
Other diverse thinkers include Charles Baudelaire, André Breton, René Maran, and Arthur Rimbaud.
The Harlem Renaissance, a literary style developed in Harlem in Manhattan during the 1920s and 1930s, influenced the Negritude philosophy. The Harlem Renaissance's writers, including Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, addressed the themes of "noireism" and race relations.
Development during the 20th century
During the 1920s and 1930s, a group of young black students and scholars, primarily from France's colonies and territories, assembled in Paris. There they were introduced to some writers of the Harlem Renaissance by Paulette Nardal and her sister Jane. The Nardal sisters contributed to the Negritude discussions by their writings and by being the proprietors of the Clamart Salon, a tea-shop venue of the French-Black intelligentsia where Negritude philosophy was often discussed. Paulette Nardal and the Haitian Dr. Leo Sajou initiated La revue du Monde Noir (1931–32), a literary journal published in English and French, which attempted to appeal to African and Caribbean intellectuals in Paris. This Harlem association was shared by the parallel development of negrismo in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean region.
Césaire was a poet, playwright, and politician from Martinique. He studied in Paris, where he discovered the black community and "rediscovered Africa". He saw la Négritude as the fact of being black, acceptance of this fact, and appreciation of the history and culture, and of black people. It is important to note that for Césaire, this emphasis on the acceptance of the fact of "blackness" was the means by which the "decolonization of the mind" could be achieved. According to him, western imperialism was responsible for the inferiority complex of blacks. He sought to recognize the collective colonial experience of Blacks—the slave trade and plantation system. Césaire's ideology was especially important during the early years of la Négritude.”
In 1948, Jean-Paul Sartre analyzed the négritude philosophy in an essay called "Orphée Noir" ("Black Orpheus") that served as the introduction to a volume of francophone poetry named Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache, compiled by Léopold Senghor. In this essay, Sartre characterizes négritude as the opposite of colonial racism in a Hegelian dialectic and with it he helped to introduce Négritude issues to French intellectuals. In his opinion, négritude was an "anti-racist racism" (racisme antiracist), a strategy with a final goal of racial unity.
Négritude was criticized by some black writers during the 1960s as insufficiently militant. Keorapetse Kgositsile said that the term Négritude was based too much on blackness according to a caucasian aesthetic, and was unable to define a new kind of perception of African-ness that would free black people and black art from caucasian conceptualizations altogether.
The Nigerian dramatist, poet, and novelist Wole Soyinka opposed Négritude. He believed that by deliberately and outspokenly being proud of their ethnicity, black people were automatically on the defensive: "Un tigre ne proclame pas sa tigritude, il saute sur sa proie" (French: A tiger doesn't proclaim its tigerness; it jumps on its prey).
After a long period of silence there has been a renaissance of Negritude developed by scholars such as Souleymane Bachir Diagne (Columbia), Donna Jones (Berkeley), and Cheikh Thiam (Ohio State) who all continue the work of Abiola Irele. Cheikh Thiam's book is the only book-length study of Negritude as philosophy. It develops Diagne's reading of Negritude as a philosophy of art, and Jones' presentation of Negritude as a lebensphilosophie.
"Lebensphilosophie ("philosophy of life" or life-philosophy in German) is a philosophical school of thought which emphasises the meaning, value and purpose of life as the foremost focus of philosophy."
Micklin, Anna T.
The Evergreen State College
"The literary movement, Negritude, was born out of the Paris intellectual environment of 1930s and 1940s. It is a product of black writers joining together through the French language to assert their cultural identity.
Aimé Césaire was the first to coin the word in his epic poem, Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, declaring “my negritude is not a stone, its deafness hurled against the clamor of the day” but instead, his negritude “takes root in the ardent flesh of the soil.” Together with Césaire, Léon Damas and Léopold Sédar Senghor created poetry that would make a definition for Negritude. The best-known Negritude works from these poets were Damas’ Pigments, Senghor’s Hosties noire and Chants d’ombre, and Césaire’s Cahier. These poets were brought together in the creation of the journal, L’Etudiant noire.
L’Etudiant noire responded to similar black journals in Paris at the time. Césaire and Senghor thought the West-Indian journal, Légitime defense, was too assimilationist and they found the Nardal sisters’ journal, Revue du monde noir, too bourgeois to truly represent the French-speaking black experience. Despite being a separate tract from these journals, L’Etudiant noire would not have been possible if the Nardal sisters and Légitime défense hadn’t created an environment in Paris for black intellectualism.
Negritude responded to the alienated position of blacks in history. The movement asserted an identity for black people around the world that was their own. For Césaire and Damas, from Martinique and French Guiana, the rupture from Africa through the Atlantic Slave Trade was a great part of their cultural understanding. Their work told of the frustration and loss of their motherland. For Senegalese Senghor, his works focused more on African traditionalism. In ways the assertion of each poet diverges from each other, but the combination of different perspectives is also what fueled and fed Negritude.
From a political standpoint, Negritude was an important aspect to the rejection of colonialism. Emerging at the cusp of African independence movements, Negritude made an impact on how the colonized viewed themselves. It also sparked and fed off of subsequent literary movements that were responding to global politics....
There is no clear end date to the movement, and some literary critics say that it still continues today, in any artistic expression asserting black identity."
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