Maret 13, 2020

 Oleh: Karina Hanum Luthfia

(Mahasiswi S3 Kajian Amerika UGM dan Dosen Sastra Inggris Universitas Negeri Semarang)

In the origin of the history, African American social group was recognized as a slave. Their existence were frequently underestimated of being ignorant and impoverished. Nevertheless, the struggle of the civil rights movement had eventually been progressive in ushering the social group in accessing education, politics, and economics sectors. Subsequently, African American in the late nineteenth century expressed their novel images of being educated and successful in owning some properties as depiction on their wealth. In fact, the new image of African American was not taken into account by White American that they were actually equal at the time being. The perspective has triggered the emergence of Jim Crow law, a racial caste system, from which the life of African American and White American had to be segregated.

Started from Southern America massive migration to Northern America in order to achieve a freedom and equality, the movement was inadequate to express the African American recent demeanor. For the reason, a wealthy African American decided to buy a property in the Harlem area. Harlem is an outstanding neighborhood located in New York City from which at first was inhabited by a high-class White American. Recognition was the ultimate aim for African American in their attempt to assimilate to the high-class White American in Harlem. The struggle was successful since White America at last recognized that African American was no longer living in the old image of being ignorant and impoverished. None the less, the recognition of African American’s existence from White America was followed by the racial issue, even though they were already educated and wealthy, they were still African American. The fact which rest on racial and ethnical issue led Harlem area turning into a cheapjack area. The White American, subsequently, sold all of their property no matter how cheap the prices were since they could not bear to live with African American people. Harlem neighborhood was no longer prestigious.

African American literature considered as the media in revealing and expressing African American social issues was suddenly increased as a response to the Harlem tragedy. Langston Hughes is one of the Harlem Renaissance writers whose poem Harlem expressed painful disappointment of African American experiencing the racial segregation even though they had provided all of the capitals they owned in order to step on that level. The tragedy of Harlem ushered into the new movement of Harlem Reinassance from which African Americans expressed their self-determination since African American owned a neighborhood in Harlem. The renaissance embraced all elements of life which are literature, music, and art as such. The new persona was expressed to the world that African American could stand their existence on the land of America.

“Each narrative taken alone offers a fragmentary, microcosmic representation of slave life. Read together, they offer a sweeping composite view of slavery in North America, allowing us to explore some of the most compelling themes of nineteenth-century slavery, including labor, resistance and fight, family life, relations with masters, and religious belief.” (Rawick, 1972: 79)

For that reason, the writer found that Harlem Renaissance brought significant influence in African American life, especially literature since literature was the weapon of African American in pursuing their life and identity.

Rawick, George. 1972. The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography. Connecticut: Greenword Press


Karina Hanum Luthfia atau biasa dipanggil Hanum, adalah seorang mahasiswi S3 Pengkajian Amerika yang juga mengajar di Universitas Negeri Semarang. Saat ini sedang menitikberatkan fokusnya ke kampus untuk mengajar dan penelitian mengenai gerakan literasi di Indonesia. Ia juga memiliki pengalaman menjadi volunteer dan researcher di salah satu locally run NGO di Yogyakarta.

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