Zenosbooks

(02/09/2008) Black No More by George S. Schuyler. New York. 1931. Macauley. keywords: Literature Black America. 250 pages.

George S. Schuyler's brilliance and wit are sometimes overshadowed by the staunch conservativism of his later years and his support of organizations like the John Birch society. What would happen to the race problem in America if black people turned white? Would everybody be happy? These questions and more are answered hilariously in BLACK NO MORE, George S. Schuyler's satiric romp.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   BLACK NO MORE is the story of Max Disher, a dapper black rogue of an insurance man who, through a scientific transformation process, becomes Matthew Fisher, a white man. Matt dreams up a scam that allows him to become the leader of the Knights of Nordica, a white supremacist group, as well as to marry the white woman who rejected him when he was black. BLACK NO MORE is a hysterical exploration of race and all its self-serving definitions. If you can't beat them, turn into them. George Samuel Schuyler, an African American writer known for his conservative views.

George Samuel Schuyler was born in Providence, Rhode Island to George and Eliza Jane Schuyler. His father died when he was young. He spent his early years in Syracuse where his mother moved their family after she remarried. In 1912 Schuyler, at seventeen years of age, enlisted in the US Army and was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. He served in Seattle and Hawaii before going AWOL after a Greek immigrant who was supposed to shine his shoes refused to do so because of his skin color. After turning himself in, Schuyler was convicted by a military court and sentenced to five years in prison. He was released after nine months as a model prisoner. After his discharge, Schuyler moved to New York City where he worked as a handyman, doing odd jobs. During this time he was able to read many books which led to his interest in socialism. He lived for a period in the Phyllis Wheatley hotel which was run by Marcus Garvey's UNIA and attended a few UNIA meetings. Schuyler found he did not agree with Garvey's philosophy and began to write on the subject. Although not entirely engrossed by socialism, Schuyler engaged himself in a circle of socialist friends, including the black socialist group Friends of Negro Freedom. This connection led to Schuyler being employed by A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen's magazine, The Messenger, which was the journal of the group. Schuyler's column Shafts and Darts: A Page of Calumny and Satire caught the eye of Ira F. Lewis, manager of the Pittsburgh Courier. In 1924, Schuyler took up a job at the Courier, where he was required to write a weekly column by the mid-1920s, Schuyler had come to disdain socialism. Schuyler believed that socialists were frauds who actually cared very little about negroes. Schuyler's writing caught the eye of H. L. Mencken who wrote 'I am more and more convinced that he [Schuyler] is the most competent editorial writer now in practice in this great free republic. ' In 1926, the Courier sent him on an editorial assignment to the South where Schuyler developed his journalist's routine, first a ride with a cab driver, then a chat with a local barber, bellboy, landlord, and policeman. All that would come before he would interview local town officials. In 1926, Schuyler became the Chief Editorial Writer at the Courier. Also that year, he published an article entitled 'The Negro-Art Hokum'; Langston Hughes's 'The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain' is a response to Schuyler's piece. In 1931 Schuyler published Black No More, which tells the story of a scientist who makes a machine that turns black people to white, a book that has since been reprinted twice. Between 1936 and 1938 he published a weekly serial in the Pittsburgh Courier which he would later collect as a novel he titled Black Empire. Schuyler also published the highly controversial book Slaves Today: A Story of Liberia, a novel about the slave trade created by freed American slaves who settled Liberia in the 1920's. During the McCarthy Era Schuyler moved sharply to the political right and contributed to American Opinion, the journal of the John Birch Society. In 1947 he published The Communist Conspiracy against the Negroes. His autobiography, Black and Conservative, was published in 1966. George Schuyler died in 1977. In 1927, George Schuyler married a liberal white Texan heiress named Josephine Cogdell. Their daughter Philippa Schuyler became a noted child prodigy and concert pianist.

 

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