Page 29 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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— T
h e
m er ican
ram a
Charles Stember’s study notes: “Intergroup animosity is ex*
plained as a projection of the bigot’s unacceptable inner impulses,
Jews and Negroes serve as part of alter egos for the bigot. The
superego sins of the bigot himself, such as deceit and egotism, are
personified in the Jew, while the id sins of the flesh are seen in
the Negro.” While both have been inordinately persecuted, the
Jew has assimilated and developed middle-class mores. In recent
years those blacks moving in the more militant stream have recog-
nized the agony of identity, the search for dignity in the face of
almost consistent rejection in a variety of areas. Thomas Petti-
grew’s study “A Profile of the Negro American” summarizes a
major difference in the thematic materials used by Friedman and
black writers Leroi Jones and Ed Bullins: “. . . mental illness
among Jewish Americans is marked by relatively high neurosis
and low psychosis rates. While among Negro Americans the oppo-
site is true.”
Leroi Jones'
is an enormously potent play. In a sub-
way car racing uptown, an evidently educated well-clad Negro
named Clay is taunted and tempted by the licentious Lulu. As
a result the young black explodes, screaming his hatred of the
white, of America. With a planned casualness Lulu stabs him and
prepares to go on to the next Negro who just then enters the car.
Early in the play, the Jew is brought into their conversation.
He is depicted as the pretentious neurotic whose art is impover-
ished and impotent, devoid of the full-blooded motive which
incites the black. Interestingly, in both cases the spokesman is not
Clay but Lulu: “Maybe we’ll meet a Jewish Buddhist and flatter
his conceits over some very pretentious coffee . . . I'll bet you’re
even too serious to be psychoanalyzed, like all those Jewish poets
from Yonkers who leave their mothers looking for other mothers
. . . their poems are always funny, and all about sex.” Clay: “They
sound great. Like movies.”
It would appear that Jones was pointing to what he considers
the anemic objectives of the young Jew while the Negro remains
locked in a fatal struggle for survival.
Ed Bullin's
The Electronic Nigger
produced in 1968 takes place
in the classroom of a Southern California Junior College, newly
built and bright with innovations. The same could be said of
Mr. Jones, the instructor. He is a black, desperately attempting to
achieve a kind of whiteness by teaching creative writing to an adult
education class. His students consist of three blacks and three
whites. The latter are named Miss Moskowitz, Sue Gold, and
Leonard Getz. While no specific mention is made of their apparent
background, it seems intriguing that they all bear apparently
Jewish surnames. The stentorian Mr. Carpentier, a black who