Lloyd Pratt’s The Strangers Book: The Human of African American Literature opens with the jarring image of a woman stranded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina crying, “Help us, please!” Her cry positions her as a powerless figure in need of aid from others with access to power. Pratt connects this contemporary woman with the historical figure of the petitioning slave. An important part of the discourse of white antebellum abolitionists, the slave’s petition was a rousing plea for succor from good-hearted white saviors. According to Pratt, this brand of petition was, and is, contingent on a dehumanizing request for recognition as a human.

In...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this article.