The Color of Memory: Reading Race with Ralph Ellison

Political Theory 36 (5):683 - 707 (2008)
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In this article, I am concerned with the relationship between the visibility of race as color, the memory of injustice, and American identity. The visibility of color would seem to make it a daily reminder of race and its history, and in this way to be intimately a part of American memory and identity. Yet the tie between memory and color is anything but certain or transparent. Rather, as I shall argue, it is a latticework composed of things remembered, forgotten, glossed, or idealized, and the traces they leave in our world, traces that keep that past from falling into the oblivion of forgetfulness. Finally, color, memory, and identity together belong to the struggle over racial justice in this country, a battle in part to recognize the past, of which color is the visible reminder, and to fashion an American identity that does not seek to render it invisible. Ralph Ellison's writings on memory and race, and particularly his defining work, the "Invisible Man," map these issues and some of the ways of approaching them. The present essay is an exploration of those issues, conducted through an engagement with his work



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Ella Baker and the challenge of black rule.Lester K. Spence - 2020 - Contemporary Political Theory 19 (4):551-572.
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The Work of Memory: Time, Identity, and Justice.W. Booth - 2008 - Social Research: An International Quarterly 75:237-262.

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