Jim Crow in the Soviet Union
Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters 36.1 (2013): 125-141
19 Pages Posted: 26 May 2013 Last revised: 15 Dec 2015
Date Written: February 9, 2013
In 1932, the African-American poet Langston Hughes journeyed to Uzbekistan in search of the social equality that a Jim Crow America had systematically denied to peoples of African descent. This essay documents what Hughes found upon his arrival in Soviet Central Asia alongside the ethnic discrimination he failed to document. Concentrating on the disjunctures between the ideal of racial harmony and the lived experience of discrimination in Hughes’ milieu as well as in contemporary Siberia and America, and on the tensions between being a native in a foreign land and a foreigner in one’s country, I ponder the gaps between the racial identities society asks us to believe in and the racial identities that we live.
Keywords: race, Soviet, discrimination, native tongue, Marxism, Uzbek, Russian, postcolonial, interracial relationships
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