Thursday, August 20, 2009

John H. McWhorter on Zora Neale Hurston

"Zora Neale Hurston’s writing challenged black people as well as white," says the linguist of the "fervent Republican who would be at home today on Fox News and whose racial pride led her to some unorthodox conclusions" — Thus Spake Zora.

Prof. McWhorter says that "Hurston held a fiercely asserted black conservative politics akin to Clarence Thomas’s" and that she "would likely irk many today with skepticism about the black community’s pride in Barack Obama’s election." He continues, "Still, in combining a commitment to the 'blackest' of folkways with a politics not far from Shelby Steele’s, Hurston explodes the myth that the black conservative is a grim opportunist, parroting the right-wing line while privately haunted by a disdain for his* own people."

(These posts of mine indicate that she was, if anything, to the libertarian right of the neoconnish figures mentioned in the above paragraph — Zora Neale Hurston's Politics and America's Great Black Paleoconservative Woman of Letters.)

Prof. McWhorter concludes, "We have much to learn from someone who is—as quiet as the secret is kept—America’s favorite black conservative."

*Prof. McWhorter's brave use of the generic masculine possessive pronoun instead of the unaesthetic "his/her" or the ungrammatical "their" makes me think that this is a man of whom I should read more.

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