The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
How we cite our quotes:
It is not more children we need but more chances for the ones already on the earth. Eugenic Parenthood for the Negro Race was what he would exhort them to. (1.5.32)
Copeland's use of the word "Eugenic" might raise some eyebrows here. Eugenics is typically associated with racism; it has ties to the Nazis, who used what they called eugenic science to prove the so-called inferiority of the Jewish people. But the Nazis by no means had a monopoly on eugenics; it was a type of thinking adopted by a wide range of groups. The key here is that eugenics focuses on selective breeding – weeding out the so-called inferior genes and creating stronger, healthier (typically whiter) children. Apparently, this is what Copeland wants for his people, which is shocking, misguided, and ultimately horrifying to ponder.
"I mean that if I could just find ten Negroes – ten of my own people – with spine and brains and courage who are willing to give all that they have – " (1.5.55)
Copeland's assessment of fellow African Americans is very complicated and is often very disturbing. Copeland is an outsider, and he has a lot of resentment towards white people, who treat him and other blacks poorly. But he also has beef with his fellow African Americans, because he believes they don't behave as he wishes them to. In this scene, he stereotypes an entire community by implying that most African Americans are lazy and cowardly. Yikes.
"Take Willie and me. Us aren't all the way colored. Our Mama was real light and both of us haves a good deal of white folks' blood in us. And Highboy – he Indian. He got a good part Indian in him. None of us is pure colored and the word you use all the time [Negro] has a way of hurting people's feelings." (1.5.62)
Portia's rundown of skin color ties back into an earlier scene where Antonapoulos wants to be white and blonde in his self-portrait. Portia too is self-conscious of how "white" she is, and she takes offense at being lumped in with other "Negroes." This hierarchy of skin color within the black community might come as a surprise, but it's explored in many other novels, like those of Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison.