The supposed plight of multi-racial persons is widely depicted in modern American literature, including the works of William Faulkner, whose stories follow the lives of multi-racial characters such as Joe Christmas and Sam Fathers, who, reflecting characteristics of “tragic mulatto” figures, search for acceptance in a racially polarized Mississippi society. Yet more contemporary literature, including works by Michael Dorris, Leslie Marmon Silko, Toni Morrison, and Clarence Major, reference the historical relationship between African Americans and American Indians, featuring multi-racial characters that more successfully fit the fabric of current American culture than do more “traditional” works such as Faulkner's. While an outdated black-white binary still lingers in American perceptions of race, increasingly, racial identity is now informed by self-identification, community recognition, and acculturation. As a result, black and Indian characters, as well as multi-racial authors, provide varied and insightful glimpses into the complexity of America's racial landscape.
Transcending the ‘Tragic Mulatto’: The Intersection of Black and Indian Heritage in Contemporary literature
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Lindsey Claire Smith; Transcending the ‘Tragic Mulatto’: The Intersection of Black and Indian Heritage in Contemporary literature. Ethnic Studies Review 1 January 2003; 26 (1): 45–66. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/esr.2003.26.1.45
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