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Black No More: A Novel: A Library of America eBook Classic

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It’s 1933, in a near-future Harlem on the verge of massive transformation: crowds are flocking to the new Black-No-More Sanitarium, brainchild of the mysterious Dr. Junius Crookman, eager to change the color of their skin and live free of the burdens of racism and prejudice. Black No More (1931), George S. Schuyler’s wildly inventive masterpiece, begins with a premise out It’s 1933, in a near-future Harlem on the verge of massive transformation: crowds are flocking to the new Black-No-More Sanitarium, brainchild of the mysterious Dr. Junius Crookman, eager to change the color of their skin and live free of the burdens of racism and prejudice. Black No More (1931), George S. Schuyler’s wildly inventive masterpiece, begins with a premise out of pulp-era speculative fiction. What would happen in America if race, by the “strange and wonderful workings of science,” were suddenly no longer a fixed or meaningful category? In the carnivalesque mayhem that ensues as millions undergo Crookman’s procedure and the old racial order is upended, Schuyler spares no one, mocking Klansmen and “race” men alike and reveling in the myriad absurdities of the nation’s racial obsession. By turns hilarious and (in an unforgettable lynching scene) utterly shocking, Black No More is Afrofuturist satire of the highest order––a sui generis Harlem Renaissance tour-de-force.


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It’s 1933, in a near-future Harlem on the verge of massive transformation: crowds are flocking to the new Black-No-More Sanitarium, brainchild of the mysterious Dr. Junius Crookman, eager to change the color of their skin and live free of the burdens of racism and prejudice. Black No More (1931), George S. Schuyler’s wildly inventive masterpiece, begins with a premise out It’s 1933, in a near-future Harlem on the verge of massive transformation: crowds are flocking to the new Black-No-More Sanitarium, brainchild of the mysterious Dr. Junius Crookman, eager to change the color of their skin and live free of the burdens of racism and prejudice. Black No More (1931), George S. Schuyler’s wildly inventive masterpiece, begins with a premise out of pulp-era speculative fiction. What would happen in America if race, by the “strange and wonderful workings of science,” were suddenly no longer a fixed or meaningful category? In the carnivalesque mayhem that ensues as millions undergo Crookman’s procedure and the old racial order is upended, Schuyler spares no one, mocking Klansmen and “race” men alike and reveling in the myriad absurdities of the nation’s racial obsession. By turns hilarious and (in an unforgettable lynching scene) utterly shocking, Black No More is Afrofuturist satire of the highest order––a sui generis Harlem Renaissance tour-de-force.

30 review for Black No More: A Novel: A Library of America eBook Classic

  1. 5 out of 5

    Reggie

    In a capitalistic economy an underclass will always be created some way, some how. Schuyler was well aware of this in 1931, which speaks directly to all the reviewers mentioning this novel's painful relevance. A wonderfully satiric & clever intro, for me, into the game-changing world of Harlem Renaissance Literature.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    In this Harlem renaissance classic, Schuler mixes satire and science fiction for a unique blend of social commentary. Black No More is not often referred to as science fiction, but it is the first science-fiction work by an African-American writer. By definition, a satire can be to be “over the top” funny. Here, Schuler’s jokes are mostly “in your face”, but just when you, as a reader, are feeling saturated by the humor, he switches it up and gives you something a little more subtle. For myself, In this Harlem renaissance classic, Schuler mixes satire and science fiction for a unique blend of social commentary. Black No More is not often referred to as science fiction, but it is the first science-fiction work by an African-American writer. By definition, a satire can be to be “over the top” funny. Here, Schuler’s jokes are mostly “in your face”, but just when you, as a reader, are feeling saturated by the humor, he switches it up and gives you something a little more subtle. For myself, I didn’t think that it was laugh out loud funny, but I found it extremely interesting. The irreverence he showed for the icons of his time, like DuBois was shocking, but I felt he made a good cases to justify his criticism. Schulyer’s overarching themes are: (1) Racism is absurd; (2) Racism is used by capitalist elites to control the population. After reading this book, I did a little research on Schyuler, and I was surprised that shortly after writing this book, his political leanings took a 180 degree turn. Clearly, part of the agenda in writing Black No More was to garner support for, what was considered at the time, socialist ideas. Also, Schuler was very critical of the NAACP. Maybe his satire spoke more truth about who he was than anyone could have guessed. In Black No More he accused everyone of using racism to make money, but Schulyer seems to have done exactly that. He aligned himself with agendas that most would consider hostile to civil rights. For example, in 1968, in a radio broadcast Schuyler said, "In South Africa you have a system of apartheid. That's their business. I don’t think it’s the business of other people to change their society." He opposed Martin Luther King’s award of the Nobel Peace prize. Although, in Black No More, he was very critical of the NAACP, Schulyer worked for the NAACP from 1937-1944 as business manager. Was any of the satire based on genuine conviction? He criticizes black men for their apparent rejection of black women, but at the time he wrote the book, he was married to the rich, white heiress, Josephine Lewis Cogdell. Schuyler became a staunch conservative, leaning extremely right, and he made a good living expounding his point of view. He may have switch sides in real life as easily as Max Disher turned into Matthew Fisher. It might be interesting to read one of his later books like Black and Conservative: the Autobiography of George Schuyler or Rac(e)Ing to the Right. I assume either would offer some explanation for his transformation. Questioning Schuyler’s real opinions when he wrote this book is interesting, on an academic level to me, but does not change my perception of the book itself. It is well done. The book lacks depth, but that can be forgiven with a satire. I didn’t like the part of the ending involving the botched getaway. I thought it was little long and gory. When I read Black No More, it reminded me of Mat Johnson’s Pym. In a way, even the endings were similar. Johnson lost control of Pym in the same way I think Black got away from Schulyer. Both books offer irreverent, entertaining social commentary. This is my first classic of 2016. I'm taking part in the 2016 PrettyBooks Classic Challenge. My classics blog is: http://lindasclassicschallenge.blogsp...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Crckt

    This mother-fucker made me laugh out loud. Schuyler was actually a rather conservative African American writing at the same time the Harlem Renaissance was occurring, which as a result, rather shocked me that I would be able to relate so well to his views. The premise is that a black doctor (read: mad scientist) has developed a method to artificially give his subjects vitiligo, the disease the Michael Jackson claims to have, that causes the pigment to fade from one's skin. As a result there is a This mother-fucker made me laugh out loud. Schuyler was actually a rather conservative African American writing at the same time the Harlem Renaissance was occurring, which as a result, rather shocked me that I would be able to relate so well to his views. The premise is that a black doctor (read: mad scientist) has developed a method to artificially give his subjects vitiligo, the disease the Michael Jackson claims to have, that causes the pigment to fade from one's skin. As a result there is a mad rush of black folks turning white. White supremacists don't know who to trust and basically all racial hell breaks loose. I liked it and I don't even really read fiction.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Starr Light

    Bullet Review: Pretty creepy that I would 100% believe this could have been written yesterday. What would happen if there was a way that blacks could be made white? What would America look like? This is that portrait - and in Trump’s America, it’s pretty eery. Just so no one is surprised: yes, the n-word is used. A LOT. But these characters are pretty awful (both white and black), and this was written in the 1930’s so bear that in mind.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    "A lifetime of being Negroes in the United States had convinced them that there was great advantage in being white." If the color barrier exists -- that is, the barrier that keeps black Americans from social acceptance and justice because of their color -- then why not eliminate the color? If everyone were white, then racism should cease to exist? Right? That is the premise George Schuyler explores in Black No More, an initially breezy little comic novel from 1931 that speculates about what might "A lifetime of being Negroes in the United States had convinced them that there was great advantage in being white." If the color barrier exists -- that is, the barrier that keeps black Americans from social acceptance and justice because of their color -- then why not eliminate the color? If everyone were white, then racism should cease to exist? Right? That is the premise George Schuyler explores in Black No More, an initially breezy little comic novel from 1931 that speculates about what might happen if science developed a quick, easy and affordable medical/biological process to eliminate skin pigmentation. The conceit is Swiftian, and the believability of its scientific efficacy is just as unimportant as it is in, say, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or in Stevenson's ...Jekyll and Hyde, where those processes are similarly vague and incredible and pretty much beside the point. We don't have to suspend disbelief about this process as much as we have to believe in the sharpness, astuteness and potency of the resulting satire. So, having set up these richly promising possibilities, does Schuyler fully realize them and deliver the goods? Not really, I'm afraid. Before I elucidate what are for me the strengths and weaknesses of the book -- and there are, indeed, strengths -- I need to make it clear up front that, for me, this is one of the worst satirical novels I've ever read. Normally, I don't bother with plot descriptions in my reviews, as such, but here it might help to provide a little for context. The book begins in Harlem, in New York City on New Year's Eve in 1933 and focuses on Max Disher, a dandy doing relatively well for himself despite the Depression. While frequenting the uptown night spots, he and an old war buddy, Bunny, shoot the shit on various topics including the haughtiness of "high yallah" black women, and during the course of the evening, Disher catches the eye of a lovely white lady and is rebuffed and called a nigger when asking her for a dance. Disgusted by the various injustices suffered by black Americans, and also retaining a fascination for the unattainable white woman, Disher manages to worm his way into the affections of Dr. Crookman, a black scientist who is about to unleash his amazing de-pigmenting process based on his research into the whitening skin condition, vitiligo, and manages to make himself the first subject of the doctor's "treatment." Very quickly, Dr. Crookman and his investors, find they've unleashed a money making monster, and in short order black Americans are lining up around the block in 100 cities to take the treatments in their Black No More clinics. (The book rather unconvincingly posits that the process also changes other black physical features, including kinked hair, making the transformation complete). With so many new whites around, the various vested interests who had profited from either black-oriented businesses (black hair salons, for instance) or those whose livelihoods depended on exploiting the community (high-rent slum lords, for instance), begin to find their avocations in jeopardy. Most importantly, racists no longer have an enemy, no "other" to hate, so they try to find legislative ways to stop the whitening of the country. There is still "black blood" coursing through these new "fake" whites, after all. The racists see it as a new plot (managing, of course, to throw Communism in as a phony instigator) to infiltrate white society through stealthy race mixing. Max, now white, takes on a new name and identity as Matthew Fisher, and goes to Atlanta in search of his white dream girl, Helen. While there he ingratiates himself with a racist reverend who happens to be the gal's father but is also the head of a powerful new Klan-type organization dedicated to destroying Black No More. Matthew eventually rises to power in the organization, laughing all the way to the bank and learning a lot about white society as he proceeds, and even manages to marry Helen. The complicated plot weaves through various political maneuvers as the forces at war try to destroy or sustain Black No More. This all sounds very good and there are laughs and some sharply observed truths that emerge as the plot plays out. The most important point the book addresses, and it is a piquant one still as relevant and real as ever, is society's need for the scapegoat, the "other," the person or the group that can keep the social order divided to divert attention from real human problems and solutions and keep elites in power. This paradigm also allows the lower white classes to have their own whipping boy to blow off steam and ignore their real enemies. The racial divide serves that purpose, and eliminating it threatens too many vested interests. One must be able to "see" one's perceived enemy in plain sight. At the same time, Schuyler boldly broaches some sensitive topics and some skewers some sacred cows. He has no truck with a hagiographic-styled presentation of black grievances that overlooks the foibles and hypocrisies of black people or of ineffectual community leaders. The following quote referring to one male character's bent toward sexual harassment, for instance, might even please a contemporary feminist: "He bitterly denounced the Nordics for debauching Negro women while taking care to hire comely yellow stenographers with weak resistance." Schuyler pops balloons left and right. Settles old scores. Deflates dogmas and egos in an equal opportunity manner. Politics, religion, the economic order, social habits, all come in for a pointed drubbing. His lampooning of religion is often spot on, as seen in these quotes: "She believed the Bible from cover to cover, except what it said about people with money..." "He quickly saw that these people would believe anything that was shouted at them loudly and convincingly enough." Such quotes, while representing the book's strengths are also typical of its weaknesses. Human beings, or in this case, his characters, are simply ciphers for Schuyler to hang judgments upon. Yes, Schuyler nails how stupidly gullible and pliable the American public is. He's hip to the forces that go on in the social order. He's keen to the hypocrisies and self-serving connections that bind a Randian selfish universe; he sees that shooting one's self in the foot is, ironically, a survival strategy. He makes us aware that he was aware of the comic absurdity of it all. I give him kudos and props for having his pulse on the sad state of things. And truly, one admires him for writing a book that had to be written. He identifies the problems, and spells them out. Unfortunately, that's all he does. And that does not make for a novel. Schuyler seems to have thought out all of the possible fall-out results of the de-colorization of America, but presents them as little more than a laundry list, as though merely mentioning them gives them any kind of novelistic gravitas or substance. Even worse, Schuyler's approach is unyieldingly misanthropic -- there's nobody in his universe worth a shit -- black or white. It's like John Calvin writing a French farce. Schuyler's particular brand of snark comes with large nudges and unseen but very blatantly felt exclamation points (just to make sure you "get" the joke). When he mocks a character, he makes sure to ascribe outrageous physical traits to them. He makes sure that you know, before he even mocks them, that they look worthy of mockery. Loading the deck against his characters to mock them in this way is akin to playing whack a mole with an atomic bomb. Subtle delineation gives way to editorial cartooning, and often I found it mean-spirited, offensive and an insult to the intelligence of the reader. Even with characters who make a one-sentence appearance, Schuyler takes pains to describe their looks before lampooning them. He abuts this with the usage of obviously twee "funny" names (Buggerie, Snobbcraft, Kretin, Crookman, etc.) to further drive home the point. There are a lot of dead fish floating in this shot-up barrel. Having repeatedly established that the racist Rev. Givens is a con man and a greedy fraud, Schuyler, pages later, still manages to describe him as "the avaricious Rev. Givens." OK, already! In a chapter devoted to an important national radio speech by Rev. Givens, Schuyler extensively quotes the announcer's speech leading up to it, and then, instead of quoting Givens' actual speech, Schuyler simply summarizes it (paraphrasing: "he talked about this and that"). Why not spell out the actual speech after all this buildup? Because of its premise, Schuyler can't help but wander unavoidably into mixed message territory. In one instance, he satirizes a black advocacy organization for secretly loving outrages such as lynchings of blacks, because such incidents increased the coffers of the organization. That, he posits, is the sole reason for the advocacy group's opposition to the changes wrought by Black No More. This, of course, is an alarmingly disturbing charge, and ignores the notion that black advocacy groups might simply be opposed to the idea of people changing to white simply because there's nothing wrong with being black -- and that the organization might, in fact, have a noble purpose apart from raising money. In fact, Schuyler spares nobody involved in black advocacy movements from charges of suspect motivations. Even Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, and others (under fictitious names) are not spared Schuyler's acid pen. There are some interesting passages later in the book -- after the novel has wended its way through its tortuously repetitive political plotting -- such as when Helen has to make a decision about her baby and comes to a sweet change of heart and when two racists get their comeuppance by being confused with blacks and getting horrendously mutilated by a white crowd out for blood. And the book ends on a funny note in which "darkening" becomes a trend when people who are "too white" become the new target of prejudice. Schuyler's plot swamps some of the occasional interesting suggestions he makes about the tragic loss of culture that occurs as the "race" ceases to exist. But, like many things in the book, it's part of a litany of lost opportunities. Black No More makes remarkable points and is historically interesting for addressing what seem to be, unfortunately, timeless injustices in the racial and general social order. At the same time, the novel's thematic ambitions, and Schuyler's inability to manage them sink the book. I've rarely seen a novel collapse so badly under the weight of its ambitions. What starts off as a tasty little meal quickly half processes through a poorly functioning digestive system to emerge as a corn-laden steaming pile of crap. It's a comic extravaganza that goes off the rails, badly. That's too bad, because Schuyler did have talent. I like the opening pages in Harlem as Max sampled its nightlife. In fact, Schuyler's grasp of that milieu is so good that I wish he had scaled down his grandiosity and instead told a story that involved just a few well-fleshed-out characters living in the city. Instead, he was a chef who wanted to throw everything into his one novelistic souffle and by hurrying it along and half baking it ended up with a dish with some admirable ingredients that nonetheless leaves you nauseous. ([email protected] 2016)

  6. 4 out of 5

    James W. Harris

    This outrageous, hilarious and insightful novel is one of the great masterpieces of satire and of black American literature. The subject matter is taboo even today. It is more than a satire of race; it covers much more ground, slapping around numerous deserving targets -- religion, politics, sex, and more. Ultimately it is about the great and endless gullibility of the human race. It would make a fabulous movie, if someone had the guts to do it. Spike Lee, maybe? Schuyler, surely the greatest bla This outrageous, hilarious and insightful novel is one of the great masterpieces of satire and of black American literature. The subject matter is taboo even today. It is more than a satire of race; it covers much more ground, slapping around numerous deserving targets -- religion, politics, sex, and more. Ultimately it is about the great and endless gullibility of the human race. It would make a fabulous movie, if someone had the guts to do it. Spike Lee, maybe? Schuyler, surely the greatest black journalist in American history, is a fascinating character who deserves a great deal more attention than he has received. He was a close friend and admirer of the great H.L. Mencken, and shared many of Mencken's views and salty style, so much so that Schuyler was sometimes called "the Black Mencken." Mencken in turn once described him as possible "the most competent editorial writer now in practice," strong praise indeed from America's greatest journalist. As a young man he was a socialist, but he became a conservative with libertarian leanings. His conservatism led to his being utterly shunned by the intelligentsia in the last years of his life. In recent years there has thankfully been more interest in the large and very rich body of work he produced.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    Super smart. Loved the content and idea. Didn’t love the writing. The humor did g translate for me 80 years on. Still relevant as far as the topic and conversations.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia Kinderman

    Wow, this was a hilarious book!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    In this science fiction satire of racial politics in America, George S. Schuyler imagines a world in which a chemical "cure" for blackness is discovered, turning the erstwhile inhabitants of Harlem into mirror-images of their white compatriots. He compares this chemical cure to the cosmetics industry of his age, hair-straighteners and skin-lighteners, and he relentlessly underscores the profitability of prejudice, social anxiety, and self-loathing. Schuyler is incredibly cynical, which is someti In this science fiction satire of racial politics in America, George S. Schuyler imagines a world in which a chemical "cure" for blackness is discovered, turning the erstwhile inhabitants of Harlem into mirror-images of their white compatriots. He compares this chemical cure to the cosmetics industry of his age, hair-straighteners and skin-lighteners, and he relentlessly underscores the profitability of prejudice, social anxiety, and self-loathing. Schuyler is incredibly cynical, which is sometimes hard to read, even in the context of broad satire; all of the characters--from the head of the Ku Klux Klan to the head of the fictionalized NAACP--are out to make a buck and advance their reputations, usually at the expense of the populations they purport to represent. However, in many of his insights about political manipulation and racial hatred, Schuyler could be speaking about Tea Party politics. Writing about an audience of working class white people riled into anger about the possibility that there are unrecognized black people in their midst, Schuyler writes: "Herein lay the fundamental cause of all their ills. Times were hard, they reasoned, because there were so many white Negroes in their midst taking their jobs and undermining their American standard of living. None of them had ever attained an American standard of living to be sure, but that fact never occurred to any of them" (81). Similarly, of an upper-class white supremacist, Schuyler observes: "While he had no love for the Knights of Nordica [the novel's revived Klan] which, he held, contained just the sort of people he wanted to legislate into impotency, social, economic, and physical, he believed he could use them to gain his point." This opportunistic alliance between money and the religious masses anticipates Reagan and the religious right, as it does the contemporary Tea Party and its constituency. Schuyler's central trope is inspired, as he uses the sudden illegibility of skin color to unpack the politics of passing and white beauty standards, to reveal the morass of genealogy that renders the grand theories and binaries of race science nonsensical as well as hateful [the white supremacists, trying to research their own purity, reveal that all supposedly white families contain black ancestry...Though "Finding Your Roots" is totally sincere as opposed to this ironic masterpiece, [author:Henry Louis Gates Jr.|3862441] must have had a chuckle at how much Schuyler would appreciate these narratives of the country's interracialism when he began his American genealogy/genome show for PBS], and to dramatize whiteness as a constructed source of social distinction. By the end of the book, characters wishing to prove their "whiteness" must darken their skin because the transformation process from black to white is rumored to produce super-white skin. So the ironic conclusion finds his would-be white characters on tanning beds and employing skin creams. Schuyler's satirical tone is Swiftian in its ruthlessness [the description of a lynching towards the end of the book, carried out on two white supremacist characters who have been revealed to have black ancestry, is brutal, dispassionate yet grisly and rending] and in its pessimism about human character; Twain-like in its irreverence and lampooning of authority, pretense, and religion ("She believed in the Bible from cover to cover, except what it said about people with money"); and Austenian in its tongue-in-cheek characterizations that elegantly and completely denigrate their subjects ("like the other girls of her set, [she was] anxious to get a husband who at the same time was handsome, intelligent, educated, refined, and rolling in wealth. As she was ignorant of the fact that no such man existed, she looked confidently forward into the future"). So why four stars instead of five stars when I often found this book very funny, I think it would be very effective in the classroom, and it's a classic of African American satire and, arguably, science fiction? A couple of different reasons. The first is personal taste; the exposure of everyone's crass self-interest becomes very repetitive, which made me enjoy the book less than I might have had it been a bit more interested in its characters or the complexities of these organizations, liturgical, legislative, and corporate. The second is Schuyler's apparent disdain for poor people. Ironically, this connects up with one of my favorite parts of the book, the indictment of the political distraction of the white working class from their own plight by way of inflaming racial hatred. While there are signs that Schuyler is aware of the structural forces keeping ignorance, unhappiness, and anger alive (he even mocks a black sociologist for "revealing the amazing fact that poor people went to jail oftener than rich ones; that most of the people were not getting enough money for their work; that strangely enough there was some connection between poverty, disease, and crime"), he also expresses some hard (for me) to stomach disdain for the poor and working classes: "hard-faced, lantern-jawed, dull-eyed adult children." It threatens to sound like the eugenics rhetoric that Schuyler roundly rejects and debunks throughout the novel. While he mitigates it with an awareness of social context ("the young men, aged before their time by child labor and a violent environment"), it bothered me. This snobbery fits with his wholesale rejection of philanthropy and political activism as barely disguised self-interest and financial opportunism, which is both quite funny (and an important reminder to not take do-gooders at their word, important skepticism today too!) and then also depressing and monotonous. Schuyler's belief that everyone's actions boil down to market motives anticipate his notorious late-career conservativism. Nonetheless, a powerful book both in the laughter and in the unease that it inspires. I will end my review with another dose of Schuyler's wit: "President Goosie averred again and again, 'I intend to make my second term as honest and efficient as my first.' Though a dire threat, this statement was supposed to be a fine promise."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    IQ "Despite his happiness Max found it pretty dull. There was something lacking in these ofay places of amusement or else there was present that one didn't find in the black-and-tan resorts in Harlem. The joy and abandon here was obviously forced. Patrons went to extremes to show each other they were having a wonderful time. It was all so strained and quite unlike anything to which he hard been accustomed. The Negroes, it seemed to him, were much gayer, enjoyed themselves more deeply and yet the IQ "Despite his happiness Max found it pretty dull. There was something lacking in these ofay places of amusement or else there was present that one didn't find in the black-and-tan resorts in Harlem. The joy and abandon here was obviously forced. Patrons went to extremes to show each other they were having a wonderful time. It was all so strained and quite unlike anything to which he hard been accustomed. The Negroes, it seemed to him, were much gayer, enjoyed themselves more deeply and yet they were more restrained, actually more refined." pg. 22 Absolutely hilarious and way ahead of its time. Well hilarious until the bitter end which was surprisingly intense and sad. The tone of the novel completely changes. I chose the IQ because it expresses Max Disher's experiences of feelings of social disconnect from white culture. While Schuyler never explicitly discusses racial pride, it is an underlying element of the story. Scuyler makes fun of all leaders engaged in race work because he does not want people to see race, he wants it erased. Schuyler goes after everyone and everything race-related from Dr. DuBois (aka Dr. Shakespeare Agamenon) to the UNIA/Marcus Garvey to Black peoples obsession with looking/ 'acting' white in any way they could. Its interesting because in my Harlem Renaissance class we also read Schuyler's essay "The Negro Art Hokum" and BLACK NO MORE contradicts that essay somewhat. In the book race has social, economic, cultural and political connotations. Schuyler somewhat acknowledges this fact in the book but not in the essay. Schuyler also makes the point that the issue of race has been used to hide class differences, much as it still is today. At one point the doctor who has pioneered this 'black-no-more' formula explains how to solve the problem of the "darky dialect" (pg. 14), "There is no such thing as Negro dialect, except in literature and drama. It is a well-known fact among informed persons that a Negro from a given section speaks the same dialect as his white neighbors. In the South you can't tell over the telephone whether you are talking to a white man or a Negro. [...] There are no racial or color dialects; only sectional dialects" (pg. 14). This is true to a certain extent and I think was a rather revolutionary idea so for Schuyler to so blatantly address it is impressive. Food for thought. Chicagoans talk differently than say Northeasterners, but Black Chicagoans talk differently than white Chicagoans I would argue. The author is very thorough in describing the conseqeunces of this 'magical' black-no-more formula, and there are some bad (often hysterically funny) consequences. My favorite 'intellectual satire' bit was tiny, and I don't want to spoil anything but it had to do with mixed kid and Americans obsession with them, viewing them as 'more attractive'. SO FAR AHAD OF HIS TIME I can't even.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Although this African-American classic was written in 1939, many of the issues explored in this book are still relevant today. In this short comedy/satire, Schuyler takes on the race problem in America. A scientist discovers a means by which to artificially induce vitiligo - normally a hereditary disorder that causes white patches to appear on the skin. With just one treatment of Black-No-More his ebony and bronzed clientele are turned "pork-colored" forever, their coiled hair straightened and Although this African-American classic was written in 1939, many of the issues explored in this book are still relevant today. In this short comedy/satire, Schuyler takes on the race problem in America. A scientist discovers a means by which to artificially induce vitiligo - normally a hereditary disorder that causes white patches to appear on the skin. With just one treatment of Black-No-More his ebony and bronzed clientele are turned "pork-colored" forever, their coiled hair straightened and their African features erased. Could "science succeed where the Civil War had failed"? After all, "if there were no Negroes, there could be no Negro problem. Without a Negro problem, Americans could concentrate their attention on something constructive." Of course what ensues in this pithy little tale is sheer pandemonium. Schuyler has no problem spreading the criticism around - from Black academics, to scientists, clergy, community leaders, politicians, white supremacists, and working class whites - all play a part in exacerbating the race problem. Each is motivated by self-serving means that are fueled through either avarice or ignorance. Recognizable are many of the icons from our past and quite easily some in our present.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Akilah

    Yeah, so this is the book that I think really predicts the current president and his administration (yes, even more so than 1984, A Handmaid's Tale, and Parable of the Sower). Schuyler imagines a post-racial America (what if black people turned white and therefore had access to all the things they were previously denied because of their skin color?) and then shows what really drives racism. (Hint: it's capitalism--and the desire for power.) He also, of course, shows what we already know: there i Yeah, so this is the book that I think really predicts the current president and his administration (yes, even more so than 1984, A Handmaid's Tale, and Parable of the Sower). Schuyler imagines a post-racial America (what if black people turned white and therefore had access to all the things they were previously denied because of their skin color?) and then shows what really drives racism. (Hint: it's capitalism--and the desire for power.) He also, of course, shows what we already know: there is no actual difference between white and black people except that some of us think we're superior to others of us. Schuyler eviscerates everyone who benefits from racism, including black intellectuals and, of course (and especially), politicians. The ending is funny and perfect, but the ending before the ending was heartbreaking and hard/uncomfortable to read. Read Harder 2018, Task 9: A book of colonial or postcolonial literature

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mel Bossa

    I was really excited about this little book in the beginning...Then, I don't know, but it felt apart for me. I enjoyed Schuyler's very sharp wit and his critical eye. I laughed many times at the parodies and various "bigger than life" characters, especially Doctor Crookman, but somehow, somewhere along the last half of the book, I stopped caring. I think I should return to this book later in the year and give it another try. Black no more is probably a brilliant book but it didn't live up to my I was really excited about this little book in the beginning...Then, I don't know, but it felt apart for me. I enjoyed Schuyler's very sharp wit and his critical eye. I laughed many times at the parodies and various "bigger than life" characters, especially Doctor Crookman, but somehow, somewhere along the last half of the book, I stopped caring. I think I should return to this book later in the year and give it another try. Black no more is probably a brilliant book but it didn't live up to my personal expectations. I was anticipating more dept perhaps. I guess it's hard to be deep and satirical, and few authors succeed at it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carol Rizzardi

    An absolutely brilliant satire about race in America. Written in 1930, it's as relevant today as it was then. Schuyler's work lampoons racists on every front, and no one escapes his incisive commentary. Parts of this book reminded me of Nella Larsen's masterpiece Passing. This book is now among the top three in my all-time list. Thank you to my friend Ryan Haynes for giving me this book as a gift. Read it!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melanee

    poignant, humorous and it's sarcasm done exactly right...can't beat that!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    I found this book to be extremely relative to what we're experiencing in society right now. Schuyler presents his stance in a satire that really gives his readers a chance to reflect upon their own lives. Yes, this book is about race and its divisive nature, but it is also about self-acceptance and learning how to be the person you were born to be. I enjoyed this book a lot and would definitely recommend it, but what is holding me back from giving it five stars was that, at times, both the writi I found this book to be extremely relative to what we're experiencing in society right now. Schuyler presents his stance in a satire that really gives his readers a chance to reflect upon their own lives. Yes, this book is about race and its divisive nature, but it is also about self-acceptance and learning how to be the person you were born to be. I enjoyed this book a lot and would definitely recommend it, but what is holding me back from giving it five stars was that, at times, both the writing and the story seemed to lag a bit. There were bits that were relevant to the story, but that seemed to be heavily worded and may have been edited back a bit. Of course, had that been done maybe the overall story wouldn't have the same impact that it does; that's hard to tell. I think what we can learn from Schuyler's novel is that we are so much more as people than we appear to be. Something that feels like a life-long lesson in the midst of a society that is always telling us we're not good enough (body image issues, anyone?). Give this a read and I guarantee that you'll learn about yourself and how an almost one hundred year old novel can hold its own throughout history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This minor classic from the Harlem Renaissance (1927) is a satire about a guy who invents a serum that turns black people white. Everyone soon is, and we end up with the inevitable conclusion that "we're all n-----s." The prose is sometimes clunky, but the satire is well-crafted and effective. (Side note: this is the logical end point for a surprising number of books from the era about passing for white, including Nella Larsen's Passing and Jessi Redmon Fauset's Plum Bun.) I dug it pretty well, This minor classic from the Harlem Renaissance (1927) is a satire about a guy who invents a serum that turns black people white. Everyone soon is, and we end up with the inevitable conclusion that "we're all n-----s." The prose is sometimes clunky, but the satire is well-crafted and effective. (Side note: this is the logical end point for a surprising number of books from the era about passing for white, including Nella Larsen's Passing and Jessi Redmon Fauset's Plum Bun.) I dug it pretty well, although I don't think its relegation to the margins is unjustified. Theme but not plot spoiled ahead: (view spoiler)[Be ready for a shockingly violent conclusion; it's a pretty drastic shift in tone, and not really an effective one. (hide spoiler)]

  18. 4 out of 5

    David

    Although I abhor George Schuyler's reactionary political veiws(he supported Joe McCarthy), I loved his highly satirical "Black NO More." At times it is falling down on the floor funny;however, beware for you may end up laughing at yourself or at one of your icons. It seems that Schuyler didn't like any of the African American icons: DuBois, Garvey, James Weldon Johnson, or Walter White. He does point out the hypocrisy of segregation and racism. His story line is quite imaginative: what would hap Although I abhor George Schuyler's reactionary political veiws(he supported Joe McCarthy), I loved his highly satirical "Black NO More." At times it is falling down on the floor funny;however, beware for you may end up laughing at yourself or at one of your icons. It seems that Schuyler didn't like any of the African American icons: DuBois, Garvey, James Weldon Johnson, or Walter White. He does point out the hypocrisy of segregation and racism. His story line is quite imaginative: what would happen if someone could invent a process to turn Negroes white? There would be no more race problem, or would there? You will have to read this side-splitting novel to find out. I recommend it for anyone who has more than a passing interest in the Harlem Renaissance. Beware: if you know little about history or the period you will not understand the satire and humor.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eugenie

    Hilarious in parts - the jury is out and will probably remain there?????

  20. 4 out of 5

    Annelisa

    How does one deal with the race problem in America? In "Black No More", George Schuyler's Dr. Junius Crookman has the answer. Convinced that the race issue can be amended if there simply were no more Black people, for the sum of $50, Crookman offers his people the chance to change from Black to white, using a mysterious process. His program causes quite the stir; African-Americans are lined up around the block to get the treatment. One of Crookman's first patients is a man named Max Disher, a r How does one deal with the race problem in America? In "Black No More", George Schuyler's Dr. Junius Crookman has the answer. Convinced that the race issue can be amended if there simply were no more Black people, for the sum of $50, Crookman offers his people the chance to change from Black to white, using a mysterious process. His program causes quite the stir; African-Americans are lined up around the block to get the treatment. One of Crookman's first patients is a man named Max Disher, a restless salesman who's tired of the difficulties of life as a Black man, especially his lack of access to white women. Once he crosses the color line, he ingratiates himself with a Klan-esuqe racial purity group, and discovers that life on the white side isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Meanwhile, the entire country is thrown into an uproar as the Black population slowly dissipates. Black leaders are left without their loyal constituents, whites are frantic about racial mixing, and no one is sure who anyone is anymore. As Crookman's operation expands into a multibillion dollar business, the backlash against his procedure grows, and the racial status quo in America becomes even more confusing. The whole affair comes to an ironic, cyclic end, one that promises to be just as problematic as the beginning. This has to be one of the funniest books I've read in a while, a prime example of satire at its finest. It's not "ha-ha" funny, but Schuyler's acerbic, relentless style is on-point. His critique of various historical figures is flawless, and there is no question as to who he's actually talking about. No one is safe from Schuyler's criticisms. I found myself going "Oh!" and chuckling at his descriptions frequently throughout the book. He lampoons white racists for their hypocrisies and stupidity, as well as the blue-blooded white power structure for initializing and feeding off of structural racism. But he also finds fault with African-American social and political leaders; he accuses them of exploiting average African-Americans for their personal gain, while keeping them stuck in a cycle of complacency. Schuyler tackles a lot of issues within the work, exposing the flaws in the ideology of white supremacy and racial superiority. He also discusses the destructive nature of colorism within the Black community, the way that politics are used to pit people against one another, the economic trap that many Blacks are caught in, and general lack of knowledge. An important idea that he rejects is the one that treats Black people as if something is wrong with them, and supports total assimilation and absorption into the dominant culture as the way to avoid racial conflict and strife. Schuyler also presents some interesting facts and hypotheticals. He challenges widely-held ideas about "Negro dialect" and "Negroid features", shows that nearly everyone has been touched by the "tar brush", so to speak, and poses that without Black people, American culture and life is not American anymore. He also criticizes that many Black leaders, though talking about the uplift of all Black people, tended to have wives who were nearly white, something that is still relevant today. In terms of pacing, the book is brisk, and can be read in one sitting. The author is very precise in what he includes and excludes; if he doesn't see it has having any bearing on the story, it's not there. Ultimately, this works to the novel's advantage. Nonetheless, it does raise a number of questions. For example, why does Dr. Crookman not use the machine on himself, if he's so anxious to "solve" the race problem? Although his victims...err...patients are changed into white people, they only have one phenotype to choose from, blond hair and blue eyes. Why didn't Dr. Crookman factor in other phenotypes of hair and eye color, to cut down on any suspicion about these newly minted whites? I also would have liked to hear more from the resistance, those African-Americans who were proud of the way they looked and refused to blanch their skin. Schuyler mentions them briefly towards the end of the novel and doesn't mention them again. The book was published in 1931, but there is no mention of the Depression (to be fair, the reality of the economic situation may not have sunk in yet). The turnaround of the lower-class Givens family at the end of the book was not very believable either, as they were such vitriolic racists. Indeed, Schuyler seems somewhat more lenient towards these poor, ignorant whites than he is of the white elites, the latter of whom he blames for influencing the former's attitudes. It is interesting to contrast Schuyler's viewpoint in the novel with his personal life. He was an avowed conservative, a pupil of Mencken, and ironically exhibited many of the character traits that he condemned in others, including his choice of a mate. Because of this, one can understand his harshness in dealing with his Black contemporaries, and his contempt for certain aspects of Black culture. Schuyler offers no solutions to the problem, nor does he offer any hope that some things may improve over time, his faith in human nature is that jaded. So jaded in fact, that Schuyler believes that were such a procedure invented, only a few thousand African-Americans would refuse it. One of the amazing things about this book is that the plot is perfectly plausible. Although not described in detail, it's hinted that the doctor's method relies heavily on inducing vitiligo in his patients, with some possible intense dermabrasion. With the continued emphasis on skin color, as well as the medical/technological advancements made today, I'm convinced that if this process existed, there would definitely be people saving their money for it. Frankly, I don't want to find out. Reading this book was more than enough.

  21. 4 out of 5

    L

    Funny and clever in the squirming, uncomfortable way I've come to expect from good satires. Schuyler sends up both sides of the color line, from uplifters to supremacists - and many other politicians, religious figures, and poor and corporate types in-between. All the -isms (racism, sexism, classism, etc.) and the -ologies (theology, anthropology, biology, etc.) get their turn at bat and no one comes out looking good... which reveals how Schuyler painted himself into a corner with this one - the Funny and clever in the squirming, uncomfortable way I've come to expect from good satires. Schuyler sends up both sides of the color line, from uplifters to supremacists - and many other politicians, religious figures, and poor and corporate types in-between. All the -isms (racism, sexism, classism, etc.) and the -ologies (theology, anthropology, biology, etc.) get their turn at bat and no one comes out looking good... which reveals how Schuyler painted himself into a corner with this one - the characters are funny but not altogether likable, and the gears of deus ex machina reveal themselves for just a brief moment towards the end before Schuyler has us laughing again. But for such a quick and entertaining read, these are small complaints. Some of my friends says that he reminds them of Ishmael Reed, and while I have yet to read one of the latter's books, based on what I heard I can see the comparison. In this book which centers somewhat around a black man who, through the help of a scientist, turns himself white, Schuyler presents a book that is often unique and - particularly as it was published in 1931 - surprising. It's is a straightforward read that makes some complicated and subversive issues about race and class ultimately seem simple, maybe even laughable.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    Someone should make a movie of this book! The story is not at all dated and may actually be even more relevant today than when written. The author starts with a wild premise and executes it without pulling punches. He indicts both whites and blacks in the process of nailing what brings out the worst in all humans (greed for money and power) and shows how the obsession with white supremacy serves many ugly purposes. This book deserves to be re-issued in a new edition...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    "Black No More" is a great idea terribly executed. The style is sloppy and inelegant. The satire is so obvious, the jokes so juvenile, that in places it's painful and embarrassing to read (e.g. characters called Dr. Crookman, Senator Kretin, Moses Lejewski, Dr. Cutten Prodd, Rev. McPhule, and Bishop Belch). The only readable passages are those in which Schuyler reverts to more journalistic tones and analyzes political situations, sparing the reader his God-awful dialogue.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Wow. Just wow. I thought I was being totally outrageous when I wrote Koontown, but Schuyler took *all* the gloves off on this one. He even named names. I admire this man's courage, and I love his sense of humor. This is the kind of book that shows you *exactly* what satire is all about.

  25. 4 out of 5

    YupIReadIt

    I have a lot to say about this book, link to video review coming soon

  26. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    I dare you not to laugh while reading this, and maybe even wince a few times. Schuyler is at his best when he's taking on everyone in the room, and mostly winning.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aloke

    Excerpt of intro to penguin classics edition by Danzy Senna (New People) http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/01/...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Grace Heneks

    This book takes absurdity to a whole new level. And, despite the 1930s slang, this book feels very contemporary and relevant to what’s happening today. It’s also laugh out loud funny.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sayeed Sanchez

    Definitely one of my favorite books I've read this year! First, from a stylistic and organizational point of view (the mechanics), Schuyler's control of figurative language, facetious tone, and demonstration of dialectic knowledge is impressive. His depiction of working class black folks, working class white folks, and their respective elites are engaging, obviously satirical, but not overly so as to demean his argument. "Black No More" is definitely a page-turner, and it is well worth the read Definitely one of my favorite books I've read this year! First, from a stylistic and organizational point of view (the mechanics), Schuyler's control of figurative language, facetious tone, and demonstration of dialectic knowledge is impressive. His depiction of working class black folks, working class white folks, and their respective elites are engaging, obviously satirical, but not overly so as to demean his argument. "Black No More" is definitely a page-turner, and it is well worth the read with current political context. I also liked Danzy Senna's preface, as it gives some context to those who may not be familiar with some Schuyler's contemporaries, such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey: context is vital to appreciate the scope of Schuyler's work. In terms of argument and critique, Schuyler's case is certainly compelling. Viewed as contrarian during the Harlem Renaissance Scene, many figures dismissed his arguments about race and capitalism. Yet, what makes Black No More so fantastic and convincing is Schuyler's clairvoyance surrounding arguments of race (as sociologically conceived as opposed to inherently biological). As well, his satirical condemnation of capitalism and its nebulous ability to co-opt anything, even racial identity politics, is an extremely timely argument--and very compelling. I'm currently writing, per assignment, an argumentative piece of the function of "passing" and Schuyler's argument about said social phenomenon, with comparison to Larsen's excellent "Passing." Definitely a recommended read--and I would love to discuss the ending if anyone does happen to read it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Sutch

    Schuyler's satiric 1931 science fiction novel was a revelation to me. Until nearly the end of the book, Schuyler's satiric barbs are sharp, wicked, and right on the money. The plot, in which a scientist discovers a method to make African-Americans into Euro-Americans (or, in the parlance of the Harlem Renaissance and 1930s America, black Negroes into whites) allows Schuyler to lampoon American race relations and all sorts of social phenomena associated with racism and exploitation. Not only does Schuyler's satiric 1931 science fiction novel was a revelation to me. Until nearly the end of the book, Schuyler's satiric barbs are sharp, wicked, and right on the money. The plot, in which a scientist discovers a method to make African-Americans into Euro-Americans (or, in the parlance of the Harlem Renaissance and 1930s America, black Negroes into whites) allows Schuyler to lampoon American race relations and all sorts of social phenomena associated with racism and exploitation. Not only does he show the less-than-firm foundations of various white supremacy groups (which still plague us today, unfortunately), he also casts well-directed literary blows against "racial uplift" groups like the NAACP and figures of the day associated with: W. E. B. Du Bois, James Johnson, and others. He also severely castigates Marcus Garvey and his "back to Africa" movement/scam in no uncertain terms. Schuyler, who was an accomplished journalist, skillfully demonstrates how racism is part and parcel of American labor and capitalism as well as the contradictions it fosters in interpersonal relations. This work also shows preliminary signs of the sharp ultra-conservative turn his views would take in the following decades. All in all, though, this novel is brilliant, sharp, and tremendous fun; Schuyler's influence is easy to see in works like Ishmael Reed's _Mumbo Jumbo_, and is similar in tone and spirit to the best work of Kurt Vonnegut. This is a pretty terrific short novel.

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