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Slave CultureNationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America$
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Sterling Stuckey

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199931675

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931675.001.0001

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Identity and Ideology: The Names Controversy

Identity and Ideology: The Names Controversy

(p.217) 4 Identity and Ideology: The Names Controversy
Slave Culture

Sterling Stuckey

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at black identity and its evolution, and shows how the controversy over how African Americans defined themselves in the twentieth century had its roots in the slave condition of the nineteenth century. West African naming ceremonies and the ritualization and celebration of names in Africa are contrasted with the uses of names as weapons against the humanity of slaves in America. The various uses over time of such designating terms as African, Afro American, colored, Negro, and Afro-Saxon are treated and related to black nationalist thought. The names controversy reveals the bases on which the confusion over identity rests—the economic, political, and social structures oppressing black people in America. The tendency is, consequently, for the better nationalist theorists to place relatively little value in engaging in debates over names.

Keywords:   William Whipper, Sidney, William Hamilton, Samuel Cornish, Ashanti and Kongo blacks, Black identity, Ideology and names

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