Black No More by George S. Schuyler review

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 Originally published in 1931, George S. Schuyler's Black No More is a deeply satirical novel which takes race relations during the Harlem Renaissance and completely runs askew with them within  this interesting time period.   The genre of Black No More wears many hats.  Schuyler's novel is a hybrid of fiction, satire, and science fiction. 

 

During the introduction of the novel, Ishmael Reed states, "There's nothing like it"  (xiiii).  Black No More is a very unique piece of fiction.  Taking place entirely in The Harlem Renascence, Schuyler carefully pokes fun at some serious issues.  Black No More is the first novel of its kind.  The element of Science Fiction is what truly makes Schuyler's novel unique.  Dr. Junius Crookman, the novels hero or anti hero depending on you're prospective has invented a procedure in which African Americans can undergo a surgery to have all of the physical characteristics of Caucasians.  Along the same lines as the time machine, such a drastic transformation is not plausible. 

Schuyler's novel revolves around two main characters.  The first being Matt Fisher, an African American man who learns of a procedure which can allow him to have all of the characteristics of a whit person and the second character is the man responsible for this procedure, Dr. Junius Crookman. Assimilation is a major theme in Black No More. The desire to be white is strong enough to people to sacrifice their time and money to undergo Dr Crookman's procedure.  Characters in Schuyler's novel feel that they will have a better chance to be successful, if they rid themselves of the physical appearance that they were born with.  Crookman's capitalistic endeavor is toying at the notion of eugenics.  While Crookman is not forcing anybody to recreate he is altering the appearances of individuals.  Schuyler also decides to satirize the KKK and the NAAACP.    Matt Fisher is transformed from a working class African American male, to a Caucasian working for a former grand wizard of the KKK.  Dr. Crookman is a man who prides "himself on being a great lover of his race" (35).  Schuyler gives his audience, more than two characters but the absurdity of Fisher and Crookman is a very substantial part of his novel.

The content of Schuyler's novel is presented in a very interesting way.  Black No More constantly revolves around what is believable and other times which is flat-out absurd, the whole time being pertinent to the social issues at hand.  Throughout the novel, Crookman reports his finds in a very scientific manner.  Crookman conducts studies and presents research to the public just as a Dr would today who was proud of his studies.  A crucial example of the satirical element is Crookman's false reports,  which he spews to the general public very similarly to a tv preacher trying to solicit money out of his audience.  Just as Crookman exploits peoples fixation on color, so does Matt Fisher.  After leaving New York, in attempt to find work in Georgia Matt attends a meeting based on a notice which states "The Racial integrity of the Caucasian Race is being threatened by the activities of a scientific Beelzebub in New York" (45) .  Matt decided to join an organization fighting against people like himself.  Without being stale, Schuyler did a fantastic job showing the capitalistic drive which fueled many people during his novel and the Harlem Renascence.

 The categorizing of people based on their appearances as well as financial gain are illustrated beautifully in Black No More .  The desire to be finically and socially successful is so important in Schuyler's novel.  Totally unbelievably at times, but always with the notion of truth Black No More takes the idea of race within society and presents in a way which will keep readers interested in the whole time. 


Schuyler, George S. Black No More. New York: Modern Library, 1999 Print


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