CliffsNotes on Kelley's A Different Drummer

CliffsNotes on Kelley's A Different Drummer

CliffsNotes on Kelley's A Different Drummer

CliffsNotes on Kelley's A Different Drummer

Excerpt

Like many young men, William Melvin Kelley's ideas about who he is and what America is all about have undergone major changes. For many years, he was, in his own words, an "assimilated student." He was educated at Fieldston, a private school in New York City, and, later, he attended Harvard University. In 1963, he published the well-known Esquire article "The Ivy League Negro." Of this type of black student, he said that the Ivy League Negro and, in general, most educated or upper-class Negroes, have an ambiguous attitude toward the uneducated, lower-class Negro; these Ivy League types are torn by a disdain and a deep love for the "diddy-bop" and the "jungle bunny" — that is, the lower-class black man and woman. "With one breath," Kelley said, "the Ivy League Negro will ridicule him [the lower-class black] for his lack of taste, the flashing and revealing clothes, and his 'dese, deys, dems, and doses,' and with his next breath, he will envy him for his apparent love of life, his woman's Africanesque or exotic beauty, and, believe it or not, his rough-and-ready sexuality." In short, Kelley was saying that in an unconscious effort to become completely integrated into American life, the Ivy League Negro adopts and accepts the stereotypes and prejudices of mainstream America — including color prejudice.

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