Going to Meet the Man

Psychosexual Racism in Going to Meet the Man College

James Baldwin’s “Going to Meet the Man” depicts the psychosexual methodologies used by a white racist sheriff who both fears and fetishizes African Americans. Through the character of Jesse, Baldwin is stating that the sexual myth of black male virility and racism inspire and bolster each other. Jesse’s obsession with black sexuality is ultimately merged in the ending when his nostalgia for a lynching that he saw as a child makes him hard and ready for intercourse. “He thought of the boy in the cell; he thought of the man in the fire; he thought of the knife and grabbed himself and stroked himself and a terrible sound, something between a high laugh and a howl, came out of him…he thought of the morning and grabbed her, laughing, and crying, crying and laughing, and he whispered, as he stroked her, as he took her, ‘Come on, sugar, I’m going to do you like a nigger.’” (1761)

James Baldwin inherited contradictory traditions in African American literature. African American literature often wrestled with a debate between the overtly political writings of Richard Wright and the folklore of Zora Neale Hurston. Overtly political narratives like Richard Wright’s Native Son could be very limiting (something that Baldwin explores in Notes...

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