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"Beware of the Frustrated . . .": The Fantasy and Reality of African American Violent Revolt

Donn C. Worgs
Journal of Black Studies
Vol. 37, No. 1 (Sep., 2006), pp. 20-45
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40034371
Page Count: 26
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"Beware of the Frustrated . . .": The Fantasy and Reality of African American Violent Revolt
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Abstract

Throughout African Americans' struggle for liberation, there have been incidents of their engaging in violent revolt-from slave revolts to the urban riots of the 21st century. Images and depictions of violent revolt have also been a recurring element in African American artistic productions-including literature, music, and film. An analysis of these "fantasies" of violent revolt provides insight into how African Americans understand violent revolt, and under what conditions such actions are justified. The analysis reveals that violent revolt is understood by many as both instrumental (a means to a desired end-usually freedom) and cathartic. Furthermore, there are four recurring themes within these fantasies. These include a justification for violence, the need to fight to gain the "respect" of the oppressor, the rage of the oppressed along with their yearning for retribution, and the humanizing or transformative effect of participating in a violent revolt against an oppressor.

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