Negritude as for the dictionary is the quality or fact of being of black African origin. It can also be defined as the affirmation of consciousness of the values of black or African culture, heritage and identity. Negritude was a cultural movement started in Paris, in the 1930s, by French speaking blacks. They were black graduated students from French speaking colonies in Africa and the Caribbean. These black intellectuals’ united issues of race identity and black internationalist initiatives to combat French imperialism. It was more than just a fight; they found solidarity and a common reason to fight for their ideals. Like affirming pride in their shared black identity and African heritage, taking back Africa self-respect, reliance and determination.
The Negritude movement was created to harm discredit the long theory of race hierarchy and black inferiority developed by philosophers such Fedrich Hegel and Joseph de Gobineau. The movement attracts names like, anthropologist Leo Frobenius and Maurice Delafosse, who wrote a novel about the abuses and injustices with the French colonial system. We have Andre Brenton, the father of Surrealism, Haitian Jean Price Mars who develop the concept of Indigenism and Cuban Nicolas Guillen, who promoted Negrismo.
Women involved in this movement were as bright as the men. Among them were Jane and Paulette Nardal and a Martinican student by the name of Suzanne Roussi Cesaire usefully outlines Negritude cultural politics. They wrote many articles, Jane Nardal wrote “Exotic puppets, 1928”, Paulette wrote; “In exile, 1929” and Suzane wrote “The Malaise of a civilization.” These women promoted race consciousness through their articles. These publications and many others influenced discussions on race and identity among the black; founded Negritude. We just met the mothers of Negritude, and who are the fathers of Negritude? In 1931the encounter of Cesaire, Senghor and Damas marks the new era of discovery and exploration of their identities as black, African, Antillean and French. The Negritude movement was to be evidence for the world; not only that they were black but also intelligent and capable of magnificent work. Aime Cesaire states, “Negritude is the simple recognition of the fact of one is black, the acceptance of this fact and of our destiny as blacks, of our history and culture.” Negritude positioned black people at the same level as any other race, in a global community of equals.
Each man had a specific way to relate their blackness, they all agreed to their blackness, but the way they express it was totally different. Their passion drove them to glorious work and they also turn into the point of critique of many. Wole Soyinka was a major critic of the movement. He states, “the tiger does not proclaim is tigerness, it jumps on its prey.” He saw no need to claim blackness or greatness trough the movement, like a tiger don’t need to announce itself to its prey, blacks should just let go of such absurd ideology; people already know who they are.
“The concept of Negritude is a defining milestone in the rehabilitation of Africa and African diaspora their identity and dignity. It is a driving inspiration behind the current flowering of literature by black Francophone writers, along other Pan-African movements such as the Harlem Renaissance, Garveyism, and Negrismo. Négritude has contributed to writing Africa and its achievements back into history, as well as fostering solidarity among Africans and people of African descent.” (Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum-Lehman College)
In 1921 Negrismo was born in Cuba. It is the celebration of black-Cuban music, rhythm, folklore, literature, poetry, and art. Negrismo extend not only to the physical body but it brought forth a way to introduce music, dance, instruments, and food, languages, religions, myths, and beliefs. They gave the essence of Africa not as cultured minds but as creators of their own path. They expose the world not only to readings from the best, but also took back through the arts everything lost when the Africans were removed from their country. It was a movement that I believe it was more of the minds than that of a fight. With the works from Nicolas Guillen, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Silvestre de Balboa, Rubén Dariío, and Luis Palés Matos; to mention a few, Negrismo became a way to liberate the soul, identify self and learn about the roots for ever lost. Nicolas Guillen became one of the most influential Cubans in the era of Negrismo. In 1930, “Motivos de Son,” Guillen’s poetry collection was published and Luis Pales Matos’ ”Danza Negra,” literary publications that later became part of the Afro-Caribbean movement. Negrismo represented the Afro-Caribbean culture rising into the changes that will give birth to the most brilliant minds ever misrepresented because of the color of their skin. Negrismo and the Harlem Renaissance were one of the same, valuable music, poetry, paintings, dance, rhythms that paved the changes and resources creating a new vision of the African man. Blackness, been from the African, the Caribbean or the Latin American heritage gave these men and women a reason to fight not with arms but with the pen, the drums and intellect. It was one common goal, that goal was to show the world, who attentively wanted to prove how right were there assumptions about Africans overall.
Negritude and Negrismo were the representation of an era were the Afro-Caribbean’s re-invented themselves demonstrating the capacity and capability is not about color is about intellect. Both movements received a stamp in history and forever becoming the voice of a culture.
Connolly, Allison “Understanding Negritude”
October 11th, 2012. http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africanaage/essay-negritude