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Steamboat Willie

The Black Writer’s Burden: Sins of Transracial Fiction

in Nonfiction by

If you pay attention, you’ll notice how often we Americans mimic a version of Black dialect and persona. We shift our speech and demeanor, usually only momentarily and often with the intent to create momentary comic relief. These fleeting moments of burlesque evoke a stylized version of how Black people are thought to express themselves, or how they might do so in mythical worlds like “Dear Ole Dixie” or “The Ghetto.” I am not referring to anything like malicious ridicule meant to wound, offend, and provoke Black people. These are an almost-unconscious series of informal expressive gestures that most Americans can be expected to employ at one time or another without giving much thought to what they are doing. And…

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