Can I call you Black? the limits of authentic heteronormativity in African diasporic discourse

Michelle M. Wright*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article argues that the assumption of a normative and authentic blackness that girds many dominant discourses on blackness in African Diaspora studies effectively marginalizes those black identities read outside of heteronormativity. Beginning with an essay by Black British political scientist Barnor Hesse, in which his British identity was implicitly read as less authentic, the article then compares and contrasts the introductions to The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. Can I call you Black concludes that despite the fierce abolitionist sentiments expressed in each text, the gender performance of Wonderful Adventures-including its encomia to Seacole's late white husband-marks the author as suspect. While Equiano's personal life receives little comment, interracial marriage is valorized as proof of his commitment and thus authenticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
JournalAfrican and Black Diaspora
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • African Diaspora
  • blackness
  • gender
  • heteronormativity
  • sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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