Black Regality, discursive play, adornment, public testimony, playing the dozens, anti-campaign


African American Studies | American Literature | American Popular Culture | Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority | Women's Studies

Document Type

Critical Essay (Special Topic)




Literary critics conducting a comparative study of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple diligently tend to the relationship between the two women, particularly at an intertextual level. This paper sheds light on an important third member of this relationship: Black women readers. An articulation of Black regality, which involves the incorporation of monarchical symbols and titles in characterizations of Black people, provides these readers with political tools poised to liberate Black women from hegemonic male authority and control. Examining the significance of adornment for the self exclusively to combat invisibility, the power of discursive play as a community forming strategy, and the efficacy of public testimony to provide and preserve mobility, this paper pinpoints the key emergences of Black regality cross textually. Then, this paper illustrates how Hurston and Walker’s implementation of Black regality refigures the imperial framework of monarchy aesthetically to envisions modes of self-expression and escape for Black women tethered to domineering men.