Fragmented Racial Identity in Funnyhouse of a Negro

Enes Eren


Adrienne Kennedy, as one of the distinguished playwrights, has composed many plays in her writing career; has addressed the issues related to black women’s lives in the US reflecting the intersecting factors that oppress African American women. In her plays, she has pictured how African American female characters are doubly oppressed compared to other groups of women and has illuminated the difference between experiences of black and white women. In this essay, I will be looking at Funnyhouse of a Negro, which tells the story of alienated African American female who ends up in committing suicide due to the oppression of society. I aim to shed light on how African American women are more oppressed than other minority groups via the character Sarah in the play who oscillates between polarities as the outcome of identity crisis owing to her race. As well, I will explore the ways Sarah’s oppression caused by intersecting dynamics such as race, gender, class, and sexuality, therefore, her traumatic identity crisis needs to be analyzed considering these categories interdependently rather than separately. These categories are shaped through a white ideology that dominates and makes African American women internalize racial hatred toward their own race. Overall, I will examine how Kennedy deconstructs the institutionalized racism by using historical characters and distorted white images to subvert the misrepresentation of African American women on the stage and emphasizes the historical burden on them created by white ideology.


Adrienne Kennedy; black feminism; identity; gender

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