Kitchenettes, Carceral Power, and Black Masculinity during the Interwar Years
This chapter examines how carceral power was articulated in the kitchenettes—small, tight, cramped spaces that many Black migrants in the Black Belt were forced to live in between World War I and World War II—and shaped identity formation. Drawing on the literature of Richard Wright, it considers how the police power that functioned in the public space of Chicago's Black Belt moved into the homes of Black migrants. Decades before carceral power made it into the academic lexicon, Wright used his fiction and nonfiction to document and understand the effect the geography of containment had on Black masculinity. For Wright, carceral power was used as a mechanism both to punish and to contain Blacks in the Black Belt. He used this analysis to bring attention to the injustices Blacks were confronted with and to develop his most-well-known literary character. The chapter looks at Wright's novel Native Son, which tackles the consequence of Black prisonization within urban geography.
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