A Notion of Journeying in The Black and Green Atlantic and Moon and the Mars

Central to the notion of the Black and Green Atlantic is the recurring image of ships; the idea of traveling and returning is ever present, even if that return is to a culture that is completely colonized and changed. These changes occur because of movement of ideas and people, wanted or unwanted, between cultures, and personal identity stems from the journey of those whose cultures are changing. Gilroy describes this notion of cultural journeying via ships quite succinctly when he wrote that “ships immediately focus attention on the middle passage, on the various projects for redemptive return to an African homeland, on the circulation of ideas and activists as well as the movement of key cultural and political artefacts: tracts, books, gramophone records, and choirs” (Gilroy 4). An emphasis on “artefacts” is necessary because as Gilroy indicates, once one leaves on a cultural journey the culture they leave behind is never quite the same. This provokes an interesting perspective on the Black and Green Atlantic: is it possible for multiple cultures, for example Black and Irish cultures, to coexist as complete wholes or does their dual existence cause concession of culture or identity one way or another? 

 In Moon and the Mars, Kia Corthron contributes to this cultural debate through her protagonist, Theo, who is both Black and Irish. The separation between Theo’s two cultural worlds is physically depicted by the New York City streets Theo travels up and down when she switches households according to a side of the family. Corthron’s commentary on Gilroy’s question on culture is complicated—Theo is proud of who she is, openly and confidently referring to herself as a “mutt,” but her two families’ beliefs split her in two. This is evident in her Irish family’s open support of slavery, such as the fact that her aunt found no issue working with slave owners. Just as a boat traveling between two destinations can find itself stuck in the middle of the ocean, young Theo is torn the same: equally proud of their identities yet struggling to see how they can coincide.

One Reply to “A Notion of Journeying in The Black and Green Atlantic and Moon and the Mars

  1. I really like your idea on the importance of traveling and returning. It seems as if every time Theo leaves either or her Grammy’s houses, she has some news to bring back to them when she returns.

    To answer your question, I think they can coexist. Coexisting consists of sharing your culture with others and learning from other people’s cultures. Coexisting does not mean that the two cultures are mutually exclusive and don’t interact with one another. Oftentimes in diverse neighborhoods where many cultures are present, we don’t see many concessions made. It is in spaces where there is a predominant culture where we start to see concessions being made so people can fit in. Overall, I think coexisting vs. conceding is very situational.

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