cover of book

From Slave Cabins to the White House: Homemade Citizenship in African American Culture
by Koritha Mitchell
University of Illinois Press, 2021
Paper: 978-0-252-08631-1 | Cloth: 978-0-252-04332-1 | eISBN: 978-0-252-05220-0
Library of Congress Classification PS153.N5M575 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 810.9896073


Koritha Mitchell analyzes canonical texts by and about African American women to lay bare the hostility these women face as they invest in traditional domesticity. Instead of the respectability and safety granted white homemakers, black women endure pejorative labels, racist governmental policies, attacks on their citizenship, and aggression meant to keep them in "their place."

Tracing how African Americans define and redefine success in a nation determined to deprive them of it, Mitchell plumbs the works of Frances Harper, Zora Neale Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, Toni Morrison, Michelle Obama, and others. These artists honor black homes from slavery and post-emancipation through the Civil Rights era to "post-racial" America. Mitchell follows black families asserting their citizenship in domestic settings while the larger society and culture marginalize and attack them, not because they are deviants or failures but because they meet American standards.

Powerful and provocative, From Slave Cabins to the White House illuminates the links between African American women's homemaking and citizenship in history and across literature.

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