in

Book Review: ‘Beyond the Shores,’ by Tamara J. Walker.

Book Review: ‘Beyond the Shores,’ by Tamara J. Walker.
Announcement


The color line, however, was always looming. For many African Americans, Walker argues, “experiencing meaningful citizenship or their full humanity” meant jettisoning the United States for other lands.

The opportunity to travel did not mean freedom from the expansive reach of American white supremacy. No matter where they ventured or sought refuge, Walker writes, “the tension over how locals treated Black people — with basic respect for their humanity — and how white Americans wanted them to be treated” was ever-present. She offers several reminders of how precarious overseas life could be, ranging from the beating of a Black factory worker by fellow white American workers in Stalingrad, to Schuyler’s harrowing ordeal, in 1952, of being briefly abducted and mistaken for a prostitute by a carload of white men in Curaçao.

Despite these challenges, the expatriates Walker profiles are held up as emblematic of how the limitations of being Black in America compelled countless people to seek alternative possibilities elsewhere. U.S. foreign policy, especially as it related to rival countries, looked especially disingenuous in light of domestic racism and racial violence. As one N.A.A.C.P. official put it in 1930, “The greatest pro-Communist influence among Negroes in the United States is the lyncher, the Ku Klux Klan member, the Black Shirt, the Caucasian Crusader.” In choosing to live in the Soviet Union, Walker notes, Golden hoped to “convey, to both his native and adopted homelands, a message of protest and renunciation.”

Full renunciation was easier said than done. A central theme of Walker’s book is how the United States, both practically and imaginatively, continued to exert a hold on African Americans who went abroad. They remained fully conscious of their Americanness, the difference it accentuated, as well as the privileges it sometimes afforded. Reflecting on her time in France, Ricki Stevenson, a guide who gives history tours of the Black experience in Paris, tells Walker, “As my French got better and better, sometimes I wasn’t as well received as I would be if I played up my American accent.”

African Americans abroad soon realized that their new homes, temporary and permanent, had their own issues when it came to race. Anti-Blackness has always been a global phenomenon that quickly tempered the initial euphoria of many expatriates. Whether in Argentina, Germany, Japan or France, African Americans learned that the histories of slavery, colonialism and empire that long predated their arrival had ongoing legacies.



Source link

Announcement

What do you think?

Written by Ebonicles

Announcement
Announcement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Announcement
Fact Check: Donald Trump Did NOT Say ‘144,000 Black People With Superpower Godlike Abilities’ Are ‘Chosen Ones’ — Audio Was AI-Generated

Fact Check: Donald Trump Did NOT Say ‘144,000 Black People With Superpower Godlike Abilities’ Are ‘Chosen Ones’ — Audio Was AI-Generated

Beyoncé becomes fourth woman with 10 Number Ones on R&B/hip-hop charts

Beyoncé becomes fourth woman with 10 Number Ones on R&B/hip-hop charts