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African American Atheists and Political LiberationA Study of the Sociocultural Dynamics of Faith$
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Michael Lackey

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780813030357

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813030357.001.0001

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Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

The Sociopolitical Structuring of God, Desire, and the Law

(p.96) 4 Langston Hughes
African American Atheists and Political Liberation

Michael Lackey

University Press of Florida

This chapter examines Langston Hughes's critique of the God concept as it functions in the construction of desire and the Law. Jacques Derrida and Drucilla Comell argued that there is, at a psychological level, an ordinary violence that structures subjects as desiring beings. For them, this violence is the basis and foundation for establishing an individual and communal orientation toward laws and the Law. Hughes meanwhile contends that it is the God concept that best functions to persuade culturally marginalized people to internalize laws that ultimately dehumanize and degrade them. Throughout his discourse, Hughes treats the God concept as an empty signifier, a semiotic vacuity that political powers can deploy to sanction an oppressive political system. Although this chapter examines some of Hughes's short stories and poems, it focuses on his “Trouble with the Angels”. This chapter examines the rationale behind the weeping act of Hughes's main character Logan. The analysis argues that Logan, Hughes's main character, weeps because of his understanding that the God concept has gained emotional and legal ascendancy within the bodies and minds of the black community.

Keywords:   Langston Hughes, God concept, desire, Law, political system

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