The Black Lives Matter Movement & the Literary Imagination: Contesting Anti-blackness With/(in) African American Fiction

Date of Award

Summer 7-1-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African American Studies


Bryant, Joan


African American young adult fiction, Antiblackness, Black Feminist Theory, Black Lives Matter, Pan Africanism, Protest Fiction

Subject Categories

African American Studies | American Literature | American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


This thesis argues that African American young adult fiction plays a vital role in the fight for black lives during this period contemporaneous with the Black Lives Matter Movement. It situates three novels in dialogue with the twenty-first-century American reality – The Hate U Give (2017) by Angie Thomas, One of the Good Ones (2021) by Maika and Maritza Moulite, and This is My America (2020) by Kim Johnson. I begin by exploring the various forms of intersectional oppression that the narratives present, using close reading techniques and focused attention on the narrative strategy of the manipulation of time. Assessing the use of time reveals the perpetuation of racial violence and systemic injustices in the American fabric – unveiling how systems of discrimination and oppression evolve and survive. By making injustices known, the novels make visible white supremacy and antiblackness and then challenge them. Furthermore, I explicate the various forms of activism performed by black youth as they navigate systemic injustices and violence, and close with an explication of the authorial intention of the three black female authors, pulling on black feminist epistemology to articulate the ways in which their novels exemplify protest. Thus, the "with/in" as reflected in the title "The Black Lives Matter Movement & the Literary Imagination: Contesting Anti-Blackness with/(in) African American Fiction" represents the nuanced ways of looking at resistance both within the texts as demonstrated by youth agency and activism, as well as with the texts themselves being published and thus existing as material culture for the Movement.


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