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Review: K. F. C. Hollway, Passed On: African American Mourning Stories

LaMonda Horton-Stallings


Black Death. The black community’s experience of bereavement has been the subject of many works in black literature and culture. In Toni Morrison’s Sula, readers quickly gain an understanding of how secondary character Shadrack attempts to deal with death: “It had to do with making a place for fear as a way of controlling it. He knew the smell of death and was terrified of it, for he could not anticipate it. It was not death or dying that frightened him, but the unexpectedness of both…In this manner he instituted National Suicide Day” (14). Shadrack’s motivation to create his dark holiday arises from an understanding that black death always seems to be sudden and surprising in ways that ironically go back to the precarious issue of race. Black death is startling because it is too violent and too soon, or shocking because we lasted so long in spite of numerous life-threatening white folks and their cultural and political policies that work to diminish black life.

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ProudFlesh: New Afrikan Journal of Culture, Politics and Consciousness. ISSN: 1543-0855 (online).
Editor: Dr. Sonjah Nadine Stanley-Niaah.

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