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Black Outlaws

Race, Law, and Male Subjectivity in African American Literature and Culture


Carlyle V. Thompson

In this provocative and original exploration of Black males and the legal establishment, Carlyle Van Thompson illuminates the critical issues defining Black male subjectivity. Since the days of Black people’s enslavement and the days of Jim Crow segregation, Black males have been at odds with the legal and extra-legal restrictions that would maintain white supremacy and white male privilege. Grounded in the voices of Frederick Douglass and David Walker, who challenged hegemonic systems designed to socio-economically disenfranchise Black people, Black Outlaws examines legal aspects with regard to Black males during the period of segregation. By critically looking at Richard Wright’s The Outsider, Chester Bomar Himes’ The Third Generation, Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress, and Ernest J. Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying – all of which examine Black males during the Jim Crow period – Thompson investigates the challenges that Black males confront and surmount in their journeys to establish their individual and collective agency. Black Outlaws helps decipher critical legal and racial issues in the works of four of the most important Black male writers, and is suitable for readers in literary studies, cultural studies, and history.