A Harlem Story, a Diaspora Story
This introductory chapter contextualizes the impact of Eric Walrond's work on the Harlem Renaissance by shifting the focus to the Caribbean diaspora. Walrond was born on the Caribbean coast of South America, though he would later spend his adolescence in Panama, leave for New York in 1918, and go to Europe ten years later. Walrond's peripatetic career has impeded examination of his life and work. He defies categorization as a conventional immigrant writer or Harlem writer. The Caribbean had instilled a thoroughgoing skepticism toward monolithic notions of race. The differences in ethnicity, religion, language, class, and culture that were conventionally subsumed under the designations “Negro” or “Colored” fuel much of his work. But the Caribbean also fostered a race radicalism, a desire to identify and challenge white supremacy. Walrond abhorred state practices of colonialism, but the complexity of the resulting societies fired his political and aesthetic imagination.
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