Sartre, White America, and the Black Problem

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    • Publication Information:
      University of Toronto Press Inc. (UTPress), 1997.
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    • Abstract:
      At various times, Jean-Paul Sartre addressed issues of racism and prejudice: anti-Semitism in Anti-Semite and Jew ([1946] 1948), colonialism in his pre- faces to Black Orpheus ([1948] 1963) and Fanon's Wretched of the Earth ([1963] 1968). His views on American racism were, similarly, a transient pre- occupation. Although his writings on anti-Semitism were contemporaneous with his writings on American racism, he barely connected one form of prejudice with the other. In Orwell's critique, Sartre "[made] no attempt to relate antisemitism to such obviously allied phenomena as, for instance, colour prejudice" (Orwell [1948] 1968, 452).1 Beyond this failure, his writings on racism in America—the subject of this essay—also reveal his failure to grasp the complexities of race prejudice.
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