It is no wonder that the autobiographical medium has dominated black modes of written expression. The autobiographical moment afforded a contradiction in racist reason: How could the black, who by definition was not fully human and hence without a point of view, produce a portrait of his or her point of view? The black autobiography announced a special form of biography, a text that was read for insight into blackness, which meant that paradoxically some of the problems of epistemic closure continued through an engagement that admitted epistemic possibility. The interest in black autobiography carried expectation and curiosity. One could see the further titillation that emerged from the addendum to several nineteenth-century narratives, including that of Frederick Douglass, ‘as written by himself.’ A black man who could write?

–Lewis Gordon

(via Square Dancing with Giants)

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