BLACK DRAMA OF THE THIRTIES, THE PAST OR THE FUTURE?
THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY black playwright who has committed himself to dramatizing a legitimate Afro-American image has had to cope with all of the problems of racial prejudice that have been spawned by the myths of white superiority and that have plagued America. Lindsay Patterson, in his introduction to Black Theater, describes their psychological effect on black Americans: "I mean by lost innocence that specific moment when a black discovers he is a 'nigger' and his mentality shifts gears and begins that long uphill climb to bring psychological order out of chaos."1 Of the black author, James Weldon Johnson stated that "the moment a Negro writer takes up his pen or sits down to the typewriter he is immediately called upon to solve, consciously or unconsciously, this problem of the double audience,"2 and we have seen that in the thirties there was hardly a theme the black playwrights could dramatize that did not involve the effects of the white superiority myths on the black community. W. E. B. Du Bois expressed another aspect of the problem in terms of the heroes of black fiction as "one of synthesizing [their] African heritage with [their] life in America. [They] must somehow combine two cultures, seemingly forever at odds with one another,"3 and Adam David Miller pinpointed yet another aspect, that of racial self-integration, when he stated that "even such a playwright as Langston Hughes . . . who proclaimed at the beginning of his career his rejection of the self-denying 'urge to whiteness' and was proud to use his 'racial individuality' was an integrationist at his core."4
Miller's statement is particularly interesting because his term integrationist here points at two distinct problems in the biracial dramatist's dilemma; it acknowledges the internal, self-integration problem that is experienced by many biracial Afro-American writers, and it reveals the change in attitude that has occurred in the black community toward integration which change directly affects its view of