"Shaking Themselves Free": Black Poets, White Audiences, and the Spaces of Private Self-Reflexivity




Osburn-Cole, Lilith

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My work explores how White-scholar activists and White Hip-Hop participants can make themselves aware of their own racial subjectivity and positionality when and if they choose to engage with African American/Black literature. This research delves into Black world life expressed in the African American literary tradition spanning from the Harlem Renaissance throughout the Civil Rights/Black Arts movement and now continuing into the contemporary Hip-Hop/Rap cultural movement. Alongside a look at the historical Black literary tradition, I also provide and analyze the ways in which white-scholar activists have historically addressed questions about their white-racial positionality and subjectivity while engaging with Black literature as well as the sociopolitical underpinnings exposed within this literary canon. My argument focuses on Black writers’ portrayals of private home life and familial relationships and Black feminists and Hip-Hop/Rap writers’ revelations of the private spaces within their own mind. These portrayals and revelations function as resistance in Black literature allowing for a window for white-scholar activists, such as myself, to witness profoundly real and raw moments of truth, I otherwise may never witness personally, creating and inspiring an impenetrable foundation of empathy through radical self-reflexivity.



white racially-conscious audiences, Black poets, protest poetry, self-reflexivity, reconciliation, hip-hop poetry, private literacy spaces, Honors College


Osburn-Cole, L. (2020). "Shaking themselves free": Black poets, white audiences, and the spaces of private self-reflexivity (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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