"De Understandin' to Go 'Long wid It": W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, and the Black Diaspora in the Americas.
Abstract: " "De Understandin' to Go `Long wid It": W.E.B. Du Bois,
Zora Neale Hurston,and the Black Diaspora in the Americas This dissertation
challenges the accepted premise ofan already existing understanding of black belonging and
black entre nous speaking and sounding between black peoples in the diaspora. Black
speaking (and, later, writing) has always had to contend with white interlocut... read moreors and their
desires regarding the sounds produced by the enslaved and their descendants. In between
what white captors, slaveowners, and white nation-&ndashbuilders in the Americas
identified as black speaking and sounding, is what black peoples struggle to speak to each
other about their experiences in the West, but more importantly about their humanity. I
argue that despite the major political and ideological gains of the various New World
freedom struggles, black people remain in-&ndashcredible speaking and writing
subjects. As in-&ndashcredible subjects, they continue to be heard and read through
the prism of what Houston A. Baker identified as the "minstrel mask" even as they try to
articulate a vision for black diasporic belonging. I focus on the writing and thinking of
two such black visionaries, W.E.B. Du Bois and Zora Neale Hurston, in order to explore the
continuing effects of the legacy of enslavement as well as question the need for entre nous
black spaces in the twenty-‐first century. In pairing Du Bois with Hurston, I
consider the difficulties of entre nous speaking along generational lines, gender
differences, and regional affiliations. Though their writing and speaking differed, as
scholars and artists they resisted the demands of the minstrel mask to produce a body of
work that subverted dominant culture's devaluation of black folk responses to ongoing
racial terror and dehumanization. Hurston and Du Bois did this while trying to
conceptualize what a black "us" in the United States and in the black diaspora in the
Americas entailed and what, if anything, exists between the "us."
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2011.
Submitted to the Dept. of English.
Advisor: Christina Sharpe.
Committee: Modhumita Roy, Elizabeth Ammons, and Kathleen Balutansky.
Keywords: Black Studies, American Literature, and Caribbean Literature.read less