Victor Mendoza

Negroes Gone Native: American Intimacies, Colonial Fantasies”

Part of my book project, which traces the effects U.S. colonialism in the Philippines had on racial-sexual governance in the metropole, this essay examine three fin-de-siècle African American texts—Sutton Griggs’s Unfettered, Frank Steward’s “Tales of Laguna,” and Pauline Hopkins’s short story “Talma Gordon”—locating their vexed responses to empire. I argue that the trope of marriage was deployed to negotiate the two main, contradictory feelings African Americans had around what I call “colonianormativity”: the impulse to disidentify with the “Filipinos” abroad as a testament to transnational antiracist commitments and the simultaneous compulsion to engage in imperialist undertakings as a mode of reaffirming U.S. national citizenship. Masculinist African American cultural politics around the Philippine Question, especially as it’s continuously channeled through marriage, falls short of achieving a cultural politics free of intersecting modes of oppression: the trope of racialized heteromonogamy makes political shadows out of both African American masculine politics’ means—feminine culture— and its end—Filipino “political equality.”