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Write 8 page essay on the topic The Autobiography of an ExColored Man by James Weldon Johnson. First-person fictional account by James Weldon Johnson The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man deals with the novelist’s ideas about the American racial classifications and the secondary stereotypes of intelligence, class, and race etc. The story of young biracial man, the “Ex-Colored Man”, helps the author to promulgate his understanding of blackness. Through the theme of “passing” in the novel, the author suggests how the African Americans are trying to create a new identity to them. The ex-colored man’s discovery of his identity as well as the uncertainty concerning his identity conveys the importance of the new understanding of the black identity. In short, James Weldon Johnson uses the character of the Ex-Colored man to demonstrate that American racial classifications are meaningless and he secondarily uses the Ex-Colored man’s travels and experiences to show that secondary stereotypes of intelligence, class, and race etc are false…. one of the most prominent explanations of the novelist’s ideas concerning racial classifications and the secondary stereotypes of intelligence, class and race etc and The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man attracts readers for its title. Whereas the term ‘colored’ is very much familiar to the readers, the employment of the term ‘ex-colored’ has a vital significance in suggesting the author’s main concerns. The term ‘ex-colored’ raises several issues at the heart of the discourse of blackness such as what are the major criteria for being ‘colored’ and how these criteria can be manipulated to make ‘ex-colored’. The title of the novel suggests agency, conjuring images of divorce sought and received, and military service departed. However, the novel, at its core, investigates the validity of linking identity to notions of race, and endeavors to explore to what ends racial identity can be employed. “James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex- Colored Man is an intriguing work if for no other reason than its title With Ex-Colored Man, Johnson sets up and foregrounds several crucial debates about the way ‘race’ was constructed in the early years of the twentieth century and, indeed, is still constructed today. Johnson observed the ways in which geography and gender contribute to our notions of racial identity, but his most cogent insights come in explaining the relationship of class to race.” (Favor, 25) Initially drafted in 1912, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man earned greater acclaim when it was reissued during the Harlem Renaissance in 1927.


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