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Racism in much of contemporary African-American literature serves as a backdrop – is rarely the focus per se, yet functions to form, deform and affect characters, communities and much of the action and reaction. Characters struggle with invisibility, intensive social paralysis, and community oppression. Racism, both collective -- that is, institutional – as well as individual bigotry and intraracism serve to impede growth. Thus, though rarely plot-centric, I will argue that racism serves to malform, misshape and distort actions, interactions and physical manifestation in characters and communities within Afro-American texts. For our purposes, I will examine Diane McKinney-Whetstone’s Tumbling, Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day and Walter Mosley’s always outnumbered, always outgunned.



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