Book Reviews 889 men, women, and children suï¬ering from vitiligo and albinism. Passive objects of fascinated white attentions more often than self-determined actors, such white Negroesâgrotesquely splotched in the former case, eerily too white in the latterâhaunted American culture from the early colonial period through the Civil War and beyond, troubling the white racial imaginary, casting into doubt both the immutability of racial diï¬erence and the rightness of race-based slavery. White Negroes such as Eko and Iko (the dreadlocked albino ââAmbassadors from Marsââ), Spotted Child, and, in our own day, Michael Jackson, forced skeptical American audiences to think outside the bun, as it were, of essentialized whiteness and blackness. Paraded about in taverns and saloons, exhibited alongside the more familiar sort of norm-reinforcing ââfreaks,ââ subjected to the scrutiny (and scalpels) of medical professionals as evidence for racialist theories, the white Negro has been, Martin argues convincingly, ââa central cultural ï¬gure, one produced out of our continuing struggles to contend with the failures of representative democracy.ââ For Revolutionary-era abolitionists, the spreading white blotches of black vitiligo suï¬erers like Henry Moss served as an unlikely engine of political hope by allowing a ââfantasy of racial transformation. . . . If
American Literature – Duke University Press
Published: Dec 1, 2003
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