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Brown BeautyColor, Sex, and Race from the Harlem Renaissance to World War II$
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Laila Haidarali

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479875108

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479875108.001.0001

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To a Brown Girl

To a Brown Girl

The Poetic Discourse of Brown

(p.153) 4 To a Brown Girl
Brown Beauty

Laila Haidarali

NYU Press

This chapter explores a selection of writings of thirteen poets who all published in important middle-class literary journals of the Harlem Renaissance. Their works appeared in the Crisis, Messenger, and Opportunity, as well as in major anthologies of the era. Together, they present compelling collective expression of the frustrations, expectations, and desires of modern African American womanhood. Neither a collective movement nor an explicitly designed political expression, this range of women’s verse nonetheless showcases the contested gender politics of the era. Women’s poetry celebrated and critiqued the role of complexion in general, and brownness in particular, in determinations of women’s beauty, social worth, and sexual respectability.

Keywords:   The Crisis, Messenger, Opportunity, Harlem Renaissance, middle class, literary journals, gender politics, African American womanhood, women's poetry

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