Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

(Counter) Narratives and Counter Truths

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I’m really digging Americanah thus far, but I haven’t fully sorted out my thoughts on it yet, so I want to draw back to something we discussed, very briefly, in class on Monday. This notion of “counter” narratives (from a Critical Race Theory perspective, or so our notes will delineate), has me assessing how the ‘dominant’ or ‘normative’ narratives are structured, and why any non-majority/non-normative narrative must be in direct opposition to  – i.e. counter – these particular narratives. As Dr. Hoffpauir mentioned, in the example with the slave cemetery near Blue Hole, counter narratives hardly exist, if they do at all — or, if they do exist, they are glossed over, or literally whitewashed, in a way that makes them seem more ~palatable~ to the “majoritarian storytellers”. This catering to the fragile ego of the dominant makes me think of a term that I encountered recently, which I think goes along with Western majoritarian stories: “creative truth-ing”. (I learned this term, by the way, while attempting to explain to my four-year-old cousin exactly how long I would be staying with his family. My uncle kindly explained to me that it would take some ‘creative truth-ing’ to tell my cousin that I would return there later, after he was asleep. This isn’t highly relevant to the rest of my point, but I the term warrants some kind of explanation.) This sort of whitewashed, dominant (re)telling of someone else’s past, or, the notion of people of color “buying into/reciting majoritarian stories” seems to me to fit this sort of bastardized-into-optimism worldview, in which the dominant narrative/ego must be served and placated at all times for fear of upsetting it, or telling something deemed too ‘unsavory’. These are just sort of initial thoughts on the matter, but the idea that this even happens in place of counter-narratives (again, itself a slightly problematic term – simply in that it is ruled ‘alternative’) is deeply upsetting.


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