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The Established Signature of a New Negro

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Harlem appears to have upheld the features of vibrant streets and roaring entertainment life. Harlem is also still engorged in culture by the people that densely populated the area; African Americans. It is undeniable in the image that the New New Negros, African Americans, are mingling at the stoop of the brownstones on the far right. And there are “mom & pop” shops decorating the length of the street. The people are in fellowship with one another or minding their business like the man sitting down on the far left as people pass him.

Walking down 125 street today and crossing avenues from Lenox Ave. to Lexington Ave, these sights are not rare and extremely common. This image is similar to the ambiance and image of Harlem today. The only thing that has changed is the density of people living in Harlem and the demographics of Harlem. The rich culture exists there today. there are arguments that the demographic of Harlem changed severely due to gentrification. Over the years, it has become a famous area that everyone wants to be integrated with. The New Negro could not fathom that the culture they’ve established is now in high demand. Whether it is for the rich history, reclamation, or the enjoyment of New Negro’s freed developed culture, Harlem preserves the culture unimaginably.

The New New Negro is successful in the maintenance of the culture of previous New Negros established from 1910 to 1940. Harlem still upholds the rich association with New Negros through the culture there. Today Harlem roars rich New Negro culture. Harlem is a historic location to reminisce. The New Negro left their undying culture in Harlem that is more acceptable for society today. The New Negro permanently signed their culture into an unwelcoming world from 1910 to 1940. It is preserved for witness today.


Credence of a New Negro

THE RIDDLE by Geogia Douglas Johnson.

“My Race” written by Helene M. Johnson and “The Riddle” by Georgia Douglas Johnson starts as described; a riddle. A mystery. A puzzle piece. A riddle is usually associated with a game and associated with a joke. It is also something that is challenging and a brain-strengthening activity. M. Johson and D. Johnson’s poems are thought-provoking for the reader. Both poets invoke the question of did they intend to make a joke about what their publisher, Opportunity, is trying to achieve for the New Negro?

M. Johnson does not go into immense detail about the race she is referring to in her poem. M. Johnson could not possibly be discussing the white race. Yet, maybe she is discussing the race of a poor white person in Harlem. During this period of slavery, poor whites equate as slaves. Poor whites were indebted to wealthy white slave owners. They were hired as overseers of slaves but owned none. They were hired as overseers of the land but owned zero acres. They equated slaves in the social hierarchy as some could not read or write ( “Poor Whites and Slavery in Antebellum South”, Keri Leigh Merrit 1). Poor whites were also disadvantaged like the New Negro when they became freed people (Merrit 1). The crucial difference between poor whites and slaves is their experience; poor whites held roles of importance and the degradation of slaves. The New Negro was never able to have ownership roles or truly degrade each other. M. Johnson is also interpreting that although she might describe her feelings in this poem, they will materialize to the reader as minute words. Words of nothing. They become words of “Careless mirth”(“My Race”, M. Johnson). In other words, the New Negro’s strifeful experience could be placed in Opportunity for eternity, but, the marked and integrated audience will not care or understand. That is the inside joke; the audience will not commiserate or care enough to solve it. M. Johnson wants the audience to comprehend but is not innocuous to the integrated audience of Opportunity. M. Johnson writes this poem as an internal joke and hopes the audience will laugh with her. M. Johnson is criticizing the goal of the Opportunity which is to appeal to a grander audience other than the New Negro. The poem could resonate with any race, however, this poem was written by the New Negro; for the New Negro.

Georgia Douglas Johnson does the opposite of M. Johnson. She begins her poem with the race she intends on discussing. The title and the concept are a riddle. However, D. Johnson understands that it is not funny. She does not care whom she offends. Her poem is more complex. The New Negro, whose ancestors were unwillingly integrated with the white man for profit, understands the concept of “uniting and blending”(“The Riddle”, D. Johnson). The integrated audience will not understand this concept. The joke D. Johnson makes is that a select few will understand this struggle and history will solve the riddle. The unchosen will not and that is her inside joke; that is true s**t. Similar to a rainbow, D. Johnson comments on the descent the New Negro faces in their newfound lives. A rainbow is comparable to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis or a negative-faced parabola. After a certain point on these arches, the New Negro resides in the area of downward slopes of the arch. The New Negro does not reach the break-even point; they do not reach the top of the rainbow. It does not matter if the New Negro is mixed with “White man’s”(D. Johnson) blood. D. Johnson’s words are illuminating. Her riddle is highly thought-provoking. Her poem is based on her experience as a mixed-race woman during the Harlem Renaissance (“Georgia Douglas Johnson”, Nick Lamb). Her words are true s**t. D. Johnson mentions a triton, which is a “demi-god Triton a Son of Poseidon and Aphrodite who in mythology was half man half fish” (Lamb 1). D. Johnson upholds the perspective of solely a black person, even though she is mixed race. She understands that despite being a white man’s child in a black man’s skin (D. Johnson 1), the New Negro will never be included. The New Negro will always succumb to the pull of gravity on the arch of a rainbow; that is true s**t.

D. Johnson and M. Johnson introduce their personal and crucial statements about the New Negro experience during the Harlem Renaissance. Both New Negro women are using Opportunity to highlight and focus their voices on their experiences in a society that did not have them in mind. Both New Negro women are inflating that the integration of the audience and writers in Opportunity to highlight the issues the New Negro face is an act ludicrous. They create puzzles through their poems to further emphasize the dark humor in expecting the white audience to understand the New Negro experience through Opportunity. They make a good joke. And as one knows, a good joke contains true s**t!

Johnson, Helene M. “My Race.” By Helene M Johnson – Famous Poems, Famous Poets. – All Poetry, 1930,

Lindley, Robin. “Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South: An Interview with Historian Keri Leigh Merritt.” History News Network, 2017,

Johnson, Charles S. “Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life.” Encyclopedia of Black Studies, 2005, Published by National Urban League

Johnson, Georgia Douglas. “The Riddle.” African American Registry, 1930,

Lamb, Nick. “Georgia Douglas Johnson.” Medium, Medium, 30 Mar. 2017,


After an exhausting period of oppression from their captors from 1886 to 1910, newly emancipated negros traveled to Harlem and transitioned into New Negros. Following years of bondage and the inability to exercise the rights that their forefathers created, they were granted these rights. The New Negro’s voice is free, and the New Negro learns to navigate this strange sense of freedom. The New Negro created poetry, educated themselves, lifted one another, and amplified their unheard voices. The New Negro established a new culture while training their voice to be loud in a world where it was unheard of in Harlem.

Uplifting the New Negro

First, the New Negro had to encourage one another after enduring years of trauma. They reminded one another that it is okay to achieve greatness like others that received a head start. Crisis magazine, edited by W.E Du Bois, depicted the beginnings of black excellence from 1910 to 1922. Women scholars (Vol 20, No.6), black love (Vol 8, No. 6), increasing black population (Vol 6, No. 6), and inviting the idea of black nationalism are a selected few of the several characterizations depicted in Crisis.

The New Negro reminded one another that it is okay to achieve feats that were once unheard of through powerful images of themselves in the distributions Crisis. Before the publication of Crisis, New Negros are represented to society as vile beings. They are not meant to survive in a society that does not cater to nor consider them. However, several other New Negros start to notice that they were not alone in the shared struggle of navigating their freedom with confusion in this society. They uplift one another through art, shared expressions, and their testimonies in Crisis.

New Negro poet, Countee Cullen, amplified his upliftment of New Negros with his voice through Crisis; Cullen published his poems “To a Brown Boy” and “To a Brown Girl”. Cullen amplifies the features of a New Negro delightfully; it is imperative that the New Negro elevates after reading.

The exhilaration of New Negros is the first step in the New Negro instituting their culture.


Endorsement of New Negros by New Negros

In 1925, Claude Mckay, a New Negro poet, publishes “Like a Strong Tree”. New Negros are starting to use the megaphone W.E DuBois, New Negro editor of Crisis, grants them. W.E Dubois is one of the several New Negros that places the megaphone on the voices of his peers. New Negro words are printed on paper for society to view and understand that they are resilient beings. The New Negro starts to find and accept their sense of belonging in this society. They begin to ground themselves and bury their roots deep within, “Like a Strong Tree” (“Like a Strong Tree”, Claude Mckay). There is strength in the strident voices of New Negros that are supported by one another. The New Negro becomes resilient and adapts to a lack of support in their newfound freedom in society.

The second step of instituting a New Negro culture is for the New Negro to become resilient.

Credence of a New Negro

As the years progressed, the New Negro receives endorsement from others that maintain an advantage in society. The New Negro forms an ally with the people in power of these publications; white people. White people discover their freedom in the years before the New Negro navigate their own. The New Negro continues to write poetry in response to their newfound allies. However, this poetry poked fun at their allies’ ability to understand their experience as New Negros in Harlem. The New Negro develops double consciousness. As a result, there is credence to New Negros; there is a profound understanding that the culture that the New Negro aims to build is everlasting.

The New Negro develops the confidence to speak rambunctiously, like Georgia Douglas Johnson in her poem “My Race” and Helene M. Johnson’s “The Riddle”. Both poems were published in Opportunity magazine, edited by Charles S. Johnson, in 1930. In only a few years the New Negro voice became loud as a trumpet during a jazz solo. There are more New Negros presented to the world through the publication of these magazines. These poems are intricate and criticize their allies, the people who created this society. Confidently, both poets amplify their disbelief in their ally’s ability to aid in establishing New Negro culture.

The final step for the New Negro instituting their culture is for the New Negro to bask in the built credibility of their culture. After the New Negro gains assurance of their culture, it becomes established.


The Established Signature of a New Negro

From 1910-to 1940, the New Negro make final adjustments to the culture raised out of nothing. They believe that they are divine beings and not vile beings. They believe in and witness greatness within their culture. They witness one another become homeowners, lovers, graduates, educators, scholars, poets, writers, editors, and several roles that once were unheard of for a New Negro in society. Their voice crescendoes from 1910 to 1940 and remains loud.

The New Negro continues to feature in relevant publications for the encouragement of other New Negros. For the foundation towards the establishment of their culture.

With the publication of Crisis, the New Negro’s voice starts off as low as the beginning of a lullaby to a baby. Then Opportunity builds the New Negros confidence about the building blocks of their culture. Their poetry and criticisms become deafening as well.

This piece analyzes the New Negro’s establishment of their culture through amplification of their voices in society from 1910 to 1940. The increase of New Negro voices is transparent through Crisis and Opportunity. The negative mental association with New Negros blossomed into something positive from 1910 to 1940. They were able to ring their voices in a society that ill-treats them. This piece analyzes the increasingly blaring sound of the New Negro permanently signing their culture into an unwelcoming world from 1910 to 1940.  

Works Cited

Angelou, Maya. “Still I Rise .” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, 1978,

Bates-Rutgers, Todd. “Without Much Rain, Roots Dive Deep to Find Water.” Futurity, Futurity, 18 Sept. 2017,

Cullen, Countee. “To a Brown Boy .”, Academy of American Poets, 1925,

Cullen, Countee. “To a Brown Girl .”, Academy of American Poets, 1925,

Du, Bois W. E. B. The Crisis. New York: Crisis Pub. Co, 1910-

Du, Bois W.E.B. The Crisis. New York, “New Negro amplifying his freedom in poetry”: Vol. 9, No. 4 (February 1915)

Du, Bois W.E.B. The Crisis. New York, “New Negro woman and her baby amplifying their life”: The Crisis, Vol. 11, No. 4. (February 1916)

Du, Bois W.E.B. The Crisis. New York, “New Negro encouraging his brethren to amplify their voice and not be silent”: The Crisis, Vol. 13, No. 5. (March 1917)

Du, Bois W.E.B. The Crisis. New York, “New Negro woman amplifying her education possibilities”: The Crisis, Vol. 24, No. 4. (August 1922)

Gates, Henry Louis. “The Trope of a New Negro and the Reconstruction of the Image of the Black.” Representations, no. 24, 1988, pp. 129–55.

Graham, Shane. “Cultural exchange in a black Atlantic Web: South African Literature, Langston Hughes, and Negritude.” Twentieth-Century Literature, vol. 60, no. 4, winter 2014, pp.481+.

Johnson, Charles S. “Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life.” Encyclopedia of Black Studies, 2005,

Published by National Urban League

Johnson, Georgia Douglas. “The Riddle.” African American Registry, 1930,

Johnson, Helene M. “My Race.” By Helene M Johnson – Famous Poems, Famous Poets. – All Poetry, 1930,

Johnson, Helene M. Johnson. “Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem”

Johnson, James Weldon, “The Making of Harlem”

Lamb, Nick. “Georgia Douglas Johnson.” Medium, Medium, 30 Mar. 2017,

Lindley, Robin. “Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South: An Interview with Historian Keri Leigh Merritt.” History News Network, 2017,

McKay, Claude. “Like a Strong Tree by Claude McKay – Poems | Academy of American Poets.”, Academy of American Poets, 1925,