Tuesday, December 5th, 2017...12:59 amAliya Nichols


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As an introduction to this anthology, I am presenting texts that investigate the power of silent protest during times of oppression and racial movements. It has come to my attention that aggression and violence have made its way into pop culture and media simulating that these are the proper responses to injustice. My belief on this stands firmly as it is: trying to attack violence with violence, whether that violence be verbal or physical, is not a valid method of parsing through oppression. I have paired the Harlem Renaissance with the Celtic Revival because it illuminates an interesting dynamic addressing the benefits of silent protest. I chose to include short stories, poetry and prose to portray the power of silent protest. I have found that the lasting effects of silent protest are prominent because they have a higher likelihood to reach a wider audience than blatant protest because it does not aggressively confront a particular group. I have found research that silent protest is a powerful form of fighting back: Glory Gatwiri and Karanja Mumbi’s article Silence as Power: Women Bargaining With Patriarchy in Kenya, argues how approaches of “silence can be used tactfully to renegotiate one’s position” (13). Celtic Revival authors such as W.B. Yeats and Jean Toomer paired with Harlem Renaissance authors such as W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen [insert three other HR authors here] have used silent protest in their works. My purpose of writing this anthology was to portray silence as a tactful form of power. I have carefully selected the authors listed above because they use creativity to shift the power dynamics of the oppressed while enhancing forms of subtlety to protest injustice.


Thesis: Silent protest is a tactful form of shifting the power dynamics of oppressed beings.

Question: Which other authors and/or texts that we have not discussed in class but are in the HRR should I incorporate in my anthology that do not directly address forms of racial injustice but use a story to subtly display racism/segregation/separation or inequality?


  • I really like how you have made this feel like the introduction to an anthology that will connect these movements to correct events. You should read the poems by Helene Johnson, she talks about race and class in a way that I think you might find helpful. I think you may have meant to list Jean Toomer as a Harlem Renaissance writer 😉 Additionally, “The Dead” by James Joyce is another text that might be useful in looking at the silent protest, seen through Gabriel’s thoughts, of the British oppression in Ireland.

  • I really appreciate how unique your topic is and that you have such a concrete framework for structuring your anthology around ways that silent protests can serve as tactful forms of power. I wonder, however, if you are not only suggesting the power of silent protests, but of peaceful, non-violent protests. Is there a way in which the usage and power of silent/peaceful protests illuminates these movements and the parallels that exist between them? I think that you are off to a great start! 🙂

  •   Alexis Wiggins
    December 8th, 2017 at 6:21 am

    I think you have a really cool idea here! You have found a subject that is sort of an umbrella term for all of the variety of different forms of writing in both the celtic revival and the harlem renaissance. From this, an idea that could lend itself to your “so what” question is how these silent protests shift the power dynamics, like what were their effects. A suggestion of another work you could use that portrays racism/segregation in the harlem renaissance is the short story “Brownskin Blues” by Claude Mckay. It touches on racism in the social expectations of beauty and the beauty expectations of black women. I’m using this in my own anthology too! Overall, well done.

  •   Leah Struzenski
    December 8th, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    I think this is a great lens. The HR movement is multifaceted and while it celebrates life in Harlem and depicts scenes of nightclubs and lively culture, the poetry and prose also serves to depict injustice. Sometimes the poems overtly protest something, other times the message is underlying. To address your question, I would bring in the elements of “Protest Poetry”. I presented on the poet Claude McKay and he is known for writing in this genre.

  •   Professor Seiler
    December 8th, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Aliya–like your peers, I think you’re onto something really promising here. As we’ve discussed, I think you mean “quiet” or “subtle” protest, rather than “silent” protest?

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