Afro-Eccentricity: Beyond the Standard Narrative of Black by William David Hart (auth.)

By William David Hart (auth.)

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And he provides a nuanced account of the Frazier–Herskovits debate concerning the survival or death of African cultural traits (“Africanisms”) among Blackamericans. Raboteau splits the differences between Frazier and Herskovits, moderates their excesses, and unifies their perspectives where such unification makes sense. Equally subtle is his reading of Frazier’s and Cone’s polar (otherworldly/this worldly) interpretations of spirituals. Frazier’s compensatory, apolitical reading and Cone’s liberationist reading are persuasively, if not elegantly, reconciled.

They chose to order their lives this way, but we are forced do so. The unintended consequence of their ascetic choices is our lack of choice. They volunteered. We are conscripted. Their loosely fitting cloak constrains us like an iron cage. 20 One hears a note of melancholy in the following observation: To-day the spirit of religious asceticism . . has escaped from the cage. But victorious capitalism since it rests on mechanical foundations needs its support no longer. The laughing blush of its rosy heir, the Enlightenment, seems also to be irretrievably fading, and the idea of duty in one’s calling prowls about in our lives like the ghost of dead religious beliefs.

22 As I suggested earlier, Marshall’s attempt to address this problem is artistically and ideologically inadequate. 23 Marshall is grappling with a very difficult historical and empirical question. I do not wish to be unduly critical.

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