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The Sage of Sugar HillGeorge S. Schuyler and the Harlem Renaissance$
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Jeffrey B. Ferguson

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780300109016

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300109016.001.0001

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The Black Mencken

The Black Mencken

(p.154) Chapter Six The Black Mencken
The Sage of Sugar Hill

Jeffrey B. Ferguson

Yale University Press

This chapter describes George Schuyler's understanding of the simian language. Playing around the many humorous possibilities inherent in the relationship between monkeys and men, Schuyler implicitly offers the idea of science as a discourse of truth, a bulwark against superstition, fundamentalism, fanaticism, and racism, and against the tendentious distortions of the professional Anglo-Saxons and their less-distinguished followers. His reading emphasizes ideas and imperatives that he shared with Mencken, such as the rejection of self-deprecating modes of consciousness among minorities and the repudiation of racialist thought. Schuyler rejects the more hardcore version of cultural pluralism and the hint of Social Darwinism that grants Mencken's review its slightly malodorous air. He agreed with Mencken that blacks should not debase themselves with fantasies concerning the superiority of white society and should insist on the equality of their group life with that of any other.

Keywords:   George Schuyler, Mencken, simian language, racialist thought, social Darwinism

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