The New Harlem Renaissance: Black Culture Permeates the Mainstream of the Art Community




“Is it wickedness? Is it Weakness?

You Decide.

Are we gonna live or die?”


Scenes from Kendrick Lamar’s music video for the song “HUMBLE” off his new album. @Googleimages

The following lines of the intro “BLOOD.” is a collection of ramblings of FOX news criticizing Kendrick Lamar’s experience with the LAPD.

Kendrick Lamar’s new album hit listeners like a back alley right hook on April 14th. This album is evolving, with its counterparts, to be a new artistic movement that is not unlike that of the movements of the Harlem Renaissance.

In the period after World War I, at the time the bloodiest war for blacks and whites alike, Harlem became the culturing point of black artists, writers, and musicians. The post-war New York City became a mecca for poets like Langston Hughes and multi-talented writers like Zora Neale Hurston. As well, as white-dominated publishing became interested in the “exotic” tastes of black writers. This moment in history shifted the black identity in the United States from disillusionment into unity through cultural upheaval.

That solidarity remained throughout the black culture in the United States and guided many social movements during the Civil Rights Movement. Though the publishers were through with the novelty of the exotic, black writer, the black community breathed life into their own sustaining culture through the racial prejudice and violence.

Today, like Kendrick Lamar, many black artists seek not only for those to read and listen but to hear and empathize. This active goal of black art may have been the downfall of the exotic, black artist during the Harlem Renaissance, but the movement today may be something even more.

From writers like Angie Thomas who debuted her first Young Adult novel The Hate U Give, a story about a young, female hip-hop artist who witnesses her best friend’s brutal beating from a white officer to Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad winning the fiction Pulitzer Prize this year, it is clear there is another movement within our publishing world to hear and empathize with the art community on the whole.

Even on Publisher Weekly’s most anticipated books of the summer 2017, you will find a strong community of black writers writing about black struggles.

Though this new wave of black art is in its early stages, the next few years may become a spring board of the less of the “novelty” and more of the critical art of an era that is black writing and music.


You can find Kendrick Lamar’s new album DAMN. anywhere where music is sold. You can find the books listed in this article at


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