Revisiting Racialized Voice: African American Ethos in Language and Literature argues that past misconceptions about what constitutes black identity and voice, codified from the 1870s through the 1920s, inform contemporary assumptions about African American authorship. Tracing elements of racial consciousness in the works of Frederick Douglass, Charles Chesnutt, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, and others, David G. Holmes urges a revisiting of narratives from this period to strengthen and advance notions about racialized writing and to shape contemporary composition pedagogies.
Holmes considers how the white hegemony demarcated black identity and reveals the ways some African American writers unintentionally reinforced the hegemony’s triad of race, language, and identity. Whereas some of these writers were able to help rethink black voice by recognizing dialect as a necessary linguistic discursive medium, others actually inhibited their own efforts to transcend race essentialism.
Still others projected race as a personal and social paradox which complicated racial identity but did not denigrate African American identity.