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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2003
George Schuyler's (1895-1977) novel, Black No More, is a deliciously wicked satire on 1920s American racial mores. First published in 1931, it was initially reissued during the late 1980s as part of The Northeastern Library of Black Literature.
Like many satires, Black No More takes a common, controversial idea, gives it form in flesh and blood, and plays it out to its logical conclusion: "What if white America didn't have any more negroes to kick around?"
This idea is realized by "Dr. Junius Crookman" (most of the characters have similarly "subtle" names), who invents an operation for turning black folks white. In lightning speed, the nation becomes monochromatic, as its entire black population "disappears."
No lack of comic -- and dramatic -- complications ensue, when it becomes clear that the operation doesn't change the genetic program for the pigmentation of one's offspring.
George Schuyler worked from a few basic premises: Most of humanity is a damned sight closer to the Devil than to the angels; most men are con artists; and the few who truly believe in anything are even worse!
For Schuyler, W.E.B. DuBois' (1868-1963) "talented tenth" of bourgeois negro society was of no more help to the average black than were the leaders of the racist, white order. Indeed, Schuyler saw those who made a living railing against Jim Crow as having the strongest interest in its preservation: every lynching brought in more money from rich, white reformers.
Thinly veiled caricatures portray DuBois ("Dr. Shakespeare Agamemnon Beard") as a hypocrite, and Marcus Garvey (1887-1940; "Santop Licorice"), the founder of the "Back-to-Africa" movement, as a common swindler (for which Garvey was, in fact, convicted in 1920, and deported in 1924).
For Schuyler, black nationalist rhetoric was merely a smokescreen to obscure its practitioners' class contempt for their erstwhile constituents, whose pockets they were busy picking. (Has anything changed in the meantime?!)
Down deep, Schuyler says, we're all the same -- and God save us! Ultimately, he surmises, if there weren't a color line, men would have had to invent one! His metaphor for American race relations was that of an "insane asylum." (Already during the 1920s -- 60 years before Dinesh D'Souza -- Schuyler had written a pamphlet arguing that total miscegenation, eliminating all distinct races, was the sole cure for America's racial madness.)
Though many of Schuyler's characters are -- as per his genre -- stereotypes, the central pair of "Max Discher/Matthew Fisher" and "Bunny Brown" are as engaging a couple of rogues as any you're likely to be fleeced by, this side of Rudyard Kipling or Chester Himes, their banter generously peppered with the black vernacular of the day.
George Schuyler was a great lover of science fiction, especially the then stupendously popular novels of H.G. Wells. He is the only notable black American novelist to smoothly incorporate science fiction motifs into his work. (To Samuel R. Delany fans: I said "notable" and "smoothly.")
In addition to Schuyler's great story, there are two other reasons for reading Black No More.
First, as by far the most influential black newspaperman this nation has ever seen, George Schuyler bestrode the negro press, and thus, negro America, like a colossus.
From 1924-1966, Schuyler worked at black America's most influential newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier. But George Schuyler didn't "write" for the Courier; he WAS the Courier. He wrote the weekly, unsigned house editorial; a weekly column, News and Views; wired in scoops and exposes from around America and the world so amazing as to catch the attention of the day's most respected, white newspapers, who also published his work; penned the pseudonymous, serialized pulp novels and short stories that were the Courier's most popular features; and engaged other prominent contemporaries to write for the Courier. It was Schuyler, for instance, who engaged pop historian J.A. Rogers to write the Courier's immensely popular feature on black history. The various strategies of silence and misrepresentation, which are today used (for instance, by alleged journalist Jill Nelson and by Henry Louis Gates Jr.) to erase or diminish Schuyler's legacy, belong to contemporary black studies and black journalism's many scandals.
The second reason for reading Black No More (together with the serialized novels published in book form as Black Empire) is for Schuyler's role as unwitting intellectual godfather of the Nation of Islam. The Nation stole its theory of the "myth of Yacub," which claims that the white man was created 6,000 years ago by an evil black scientist, from Schuyler's Black No More, except that the Nation, as was its wont, turned Schuyler's story on its head. (Schuyler, for his part, was reworking H.G. Wells' story, The Island of Dr. Moreau.)
So read Black No More, enjoy some belly laughs, and learn some history in the bargain.
Black No More has an overly informative foreword by James A. Miller, which is best read as an afterword (so as not to ruin your enjoyment of the book), to clarify historical questions.
Originally published in 1992 in A Different Drummer magazine.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2002
In my search for quality books written by black writers, I stumbled upon BLACK NO MORE and I am so glad that I did. This is a relatively small book, but probably one of the most thought provoking books that I've ever read. It forces you to look at the power of racisim in all of its incarnations, whether it is being imposed on black people from white people or if it is imposed on blacks from their own people. I think that George Schuyler is one of the most unsung heroes of African American literature and all people (especially Black people) should find the time to read his work. I'm currently purchasing anything I can find that he has written.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 26, 2007
Although largely forgotten today, George Schuyler was probably the foremost black journalist of the early 20th Century. No doubt much of his modern-day intellectual exile is due to Schuyler's politics. While the rest of black America lurched left, Schuyler published his autobiography, BLACK AND CONSERVATIVE, the title of which says it all. Combine that with Schuyler's noted attack on Malcolm X and, more infamously, his scathing criticism of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Schuyler's alienation became complete. Too bad for the rest of us, as his writing is often quite delicious.

Schuyler occasionally ventured into fiction and BLACK NO MORE is probably the best known of such works. Although the book is often described as science fiction, that label is a tad misleading. It is an extremely entertaining social critique of the American obsession with race and skin color and is packed with the same race hustlers, con artists, demagogues and hypocrites we still see today. I guess the more things change, the more they really do stay the same.

Dr. Junius Crookman (great name, huh?) develops the technology to turn black people white. The first to sign on, Max Disher, uses his new found whiteness to woo the white ladies who would have nothing to do with him before and, hilariously, climb the ladder of a white supremacist hate group. He does not do this out of any desire to pull a fast one on The Man, but rather sees it as the fast track to making a quick buck.

White supremacists are not Schuyler's only target, however. The black advancement organization, clearly modeled on the NAACP, is deeply alarmed - deeply - that soon there will be no more oppressed negroes whose woes will fill the group's coffers and allow its leadership to dine on foie gras. This group's leader is also lampooned appropriately. Apparently W.E.B. Du Bois was the warm-up act for the aforementioned critiques of Malcolm X and MLK, Jr.

Not allowing a good book to end on a sour note, Schuyler brings things full circle at the end, when it is discovered that blacks who have undergone the treatment are a shade whiter than natural born whites! And so the cycle continues. BLACK NO MORE is a treat from an unfortunately largely overlooked figure. Check it out.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2009
Schuyler's Dedication

"This book is dedicated to all Caucasians in the great republic who can trace their ancestry back ten generations and confidentially assert that there are no black leaves, twigs, limbs or branches on their family tree."

The book is hilarious and tells many truths. Here are some of the truths:

Blacks being color struck:

The two had in common a weakness rather prevalent among AfraAmercan bucks: they preferred yellow women. Both swore here were three things essential to the happiness of a colored gentleman: yellow money, yellow women, and yellow taxis. It was so hard to hold them. They were so sought after that one almost required a million dollars to keep them out of the clutches of one's rivals.

Black Conservatives:

Colonel Roberts was the acknowledged leader of the conservative Negroes (most of who had nothing to conserve) who felt at all times that the white folks were in the lead and that Negroes should be careful to guide themselves accordingly.

Black folk supporting black businesses:

Mr. Spelling had for many years been the leading advocate of the strange doctrine that an underpaid Negro worker should go out of his way to patronize a little dingy Negro store instead of going to a cheaper and cleaner store, all for the dubious satisfaction of helping Negro merchants grow wealthy.

The Marcus Garvey character:

Mr. Licorice for some fifteen years had been very profitable advocating the emigration of all the American Negroes to Africa. He had not, of course, gone there himself and had not the slightest intention of going so far from the fleshpots, but he told the other Negroes go. Naturally the first step in their going was to join his society by paying five dollars a year membership, ten dollars for a gold, green and purple robe and silver-colored helmet that together cost two dollars and a half, etc., etc.

White men only need to tell him that he was shrewder than white men and he would immediately reach for his check book.

Civil Rights Organizations:

While a large staff of officials was eager to end all oppression and persecution of the Negro, they were never so happy and excited as when a Negro was barred from a theater or fried to a crisp. Then they would leap for telephones, grab telegraph pads and yell for stenographers; smiling through their simulated indignation at the spectacle of another reason for their continued existence and appeals for funds.

W.E. Dubois character:

For a mere six thousands dollar a year, the learned doctor wrote scholarly and biting editorials in The Dilemma denouncing the Caucasians whom he secretively admired and lauding the greatness of the Negroes who he alternatively pitied and despised. In limpid prose he told of the sufferings and privations of the downtrodden black workers with who lives he was totally and thankfully unfamiliar. Like most Negro leaders, he deified the black woman but abstained from employing aught save octoroons. He talked a white banquets about "we of the black race: and admitted in books that he was part-French, part-Russian, part-Indian, part-Negro. He bitterly denounced the Nordics for debauching Negro women while taking care to hire comely yellow stenographers with weak resistance.

I really enjoyed reading Black No More. It is quick and easy read. I am so happy that Dark Matters introduced me to George Schuyler. Otherwise, I would not have known him. I also highly recommend Schuyler's Black Empire and Ethiopian stories. This author also to introduced me to The Conjure Man Dies. I can see why the so-called Black elites hated him.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2011
Written in 1931 this book proves that people have hated social workers and statisticians since the dawn of civilisation, and for the same reasons that we hate them now. The premise of this book is fascinating - what would happen if blacks in the U.S. could suddenly be rendered indistinguishably white? The social implications explored in this scenario will probably surprise you and make you say to yourself "I never thought of that, huh!".

This is an extremely witty social satire that spares no-one in skewering their pretensions and hypocrisies. Democrats and Republicans, Southerners and Northerners, whites and blacks, men and women are equally judged for their self-interest and essential corruption. The point is well made that racial prejudice serves the interests of capitalism by encouraging what might otherwise be a unified workforce to focus on their differences rather than their similarities in exploitation. However no-one could argue that this is either a politically left-leaning or right-leaning tract. Its fundamental message is that power corrupts and, whether you're black or white, you should be highly suspicious of any power broker who claims that they are acting in your best interest. All characters in this book are acting in their own self interest and a very amusing and convoluted tale it makes.

The criticisms that this books makes of racial politics are as relevant today as they apparently were in 1931. I found this both heartening and profoundly depressing. Depressing because human beings never seem to learn anything, heartening because, even if institutions don't change, individuals can.

This is a very amusing read with lots of wry smiles but also a very thought provoking read. It deserves to be a classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2014
This is a wonderfully amusing, biting satire. Much of the subject matter still applies today, only the names of those being satirized have changed. Schulyer's book pokes fun at the underlying truth of race and class in the United States. I would love to see a mini-series made of this in three or four parts, but that would never happen in today's social-political climate. This reminded me of the Dr. Suess story about the Sneetches, and the star belly discrimination that makes the character who owns the means of production wealthy, while sending the Sneetch society into turmoil. I highly recommend this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 1999
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on April 18, 2010
BLACK NO MORE is as timely today as it was when I first read it in 1972. After seeing the movie, "Good Hair," I was reminded of the historical self-hatred of our people and the prevalence of attempts to "look white" by purchasing products like straight, silky hair and skin lighteners. Then I remembered reading BLACK NO MORE when I was a college freshman and thinking that it was hilarious. The book is about a Black doctor's invention of a process to turn Black people white ("pork-colored") -- hence, no more Black people -- save the inevitable mulatto-colored progeny. One would think that the absence of Black people in this country would equate with an absence of racism. Alas, the "blackamoors" (whitened Blacks) are outed when "tracing the ancestry" of politicians occurs. The book was originally published in 1931 as a "mythical solution to the race problem." Nearly eighty years later, the reality of the "race problem" continues to show its true colors. George Schuyler's satire is particularly relevant today and I wonder if he had any idea that we'd still be dealing with race issues a century later.
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on August 6, 2014
Absolutely hysterical satire! I laughed out loud and then felt ashamed for laughing because the truths contained therein are not exactly funny. HOWEVER, IT IS A MUST READ -- IF YOU DARE. If you didn't know this book was written in the 1930s, you'd swear it was written yesterday. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It's amazing how Mr. Schuyler captured so much truth in this 150 page novel. It's time for the world to know more about Mr. George S. Schuyler. I totally understand, after reading this phenomenal book, why people at the time of publication used their voices to shut him down and out for so many years. Although he too was part of the Harlem Renaissance, you'd never know it. If those afraid of his opinions hadn't been successful at censoring him, our country might look and work a little different today for our Black citizens, of which I am one. What a Shame!
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on March 28, 2015
Black No More is a quirky scientific thriller about a technology that changes Blacks to blond haired, blue eyed, anglo-saxon White people during the Harlem Renaissance.

It follows Max Disher through a time period of great expression for the artistic and talented which Max Disher is neither. He's an average joe with with above average dreams. He's a single black man with the common trappings of the flesh. Sometimes he overcomes and sometimes he indulges.

Max and many others take the procedure and the results are a roaring good time. Much of which is the influx of interracial relationships that spring up. The only caveat is that the white men and women who are White by God's choice and not man's are totally unaware that they are in sexual relationships with the very blacks they disdain. LOL.
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