Women's Mystery Writing and Migration in the African Diaspora
6: Ubiquitous, Invisible Class
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This chapter examines how class is represented in mysteries written by African-American female writers. I wish to clarify from the onset that neither class consciousness nor unification around economic-based concerns is held up as a potential avenue to healing and psychic well-being. Instead, these artists describe the massive damage inflicted by class lines and class warfare. References to class differences are also extremely common. So, we have a genre that is highly aware of and sensitive to social striations formed by economic disparities, yet these texts offer no viable solution to heal these riffs. I suspect that this schism has much to do with the detective’s role as a lone scout (even when she drags her assistants along for a shift). As sentinel, as witness, minefield sounder and guide, her duties are clear: hit the trail and secure fallow ground for the brethren. However, when it comes to community consciousness raising, establishing networks and unions, developing talks across class boundaries, and arbitrating demands from various groups, the sleuth is far outside her comfort zone and range of responsibilities. She encounters but does not build community organizations (disorganizations in some cases) and observes class disparities during her circumnavigation of her investigative grounds. Class is part of life’s terrain that she must learn to read if she is to become a worthy vanguard figure and crime buster. ← 113 | 114 →
The first challenge in terms of unpacking how class functions in this tradition is demarcating the lines in...
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