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African Americans and Reconceptualization of Identity: Black Participation in World War I and the Rise of the New Negro Consciousness

Author(s): Farshid Nowrouzi Roshnavand, | Rajabali Askarzadeh Torghabeh

Journal: Khazar Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 2223-2613

Volume: 16;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 37;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Keywords: World War I | African Americans | New Negro | Self-determination | Identity.

Before the beginning of the twentieth century, the American Negro had undergone an allencompassingprocess of Otherization and inferiorization which represented blacks asinhuman, heathen and demonic. Under the tenacious hold of Calvinism, Capitalism andmost notably Social Darwinism, blacks were forced to internalize the dominant negativestereotypes and thus over time came to view Uncle Tomism and assimilationism as the onlypossible survival strategies in the white-dominated United States. However, there emergeda paradigm shift in African Americans’ conception of themselves and their status in thecountry when a number of factors went hand in hand in the early twentieth century toundermine the long-held assumption of white supremacy and black inferiority. One of thesefactors was African American participation in World War I. The up-to-then subalternized,obsequious American Negro experienced relative freedom in Europe during war time andcame to appreciate and later implement concepts like collective political entity, culturalidentity and social activism. This paper tries to analyze African Americans’ contribution tothe cause of World War I and the way it managed to usher blacks into an age of redefinitionthrough politicizing them.
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