Black Sci-Fi/Spec Fic Primer–George Schuyler

George S. Schuyler (1895-1977) was lesser known figure of the Harlem Renaissance.  Other prominent black intellectuals sometimes perceived Schuyler as problematic because his indiscriminate commitment to certain ideas and ideals.  In a time that was, in some ways, characterized by “Race Men,” some questioned Schuyler’s loyalties to the black community (of course, at that time, it would have been the “Colored” or “Negro” community).  It did not help that his most popular work (discussed below) took jabs at many of those same intellectual and cultural luminaries.
Schuyler was a satirist, and like many satirists–from Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) to George Orwell (Animal Farm)–he  created fantastical, alternate realities in order to deliver his social and political commentary.  In his 1931 novel, Black No More, Schuyler writes of a world in which black people can become white in three days or less–and only 24 hours for a new born baby!  Max Disher, after strapping himself into a revolutionary machine–the “E-Race-O-Later–invented by Dr. Crookman, becomes white and begins to understand what it is like to live on the other side of the color line.  Using a healthy dose of science fiction or (if you prefer) science fantasy, Schuyler underscores the absurdity at the heart of the fiction that is race in America.

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