With her story Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renais­sance, his­to­rian Carla Kaplan, who teaches at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, intro­duces readers more fully to those women. (“Miss Anne” is a generic term within the black com­mu­nity for white women, espe­cially those who rely on the priv­i­lege of their race. Kaplan’s use of it in the book’s title sig­ni­fies her insider’s knowl­edge — as well as her intent to be pur­pose­fully provoca­tive.) Many of us who read about the works of Hurston and Hughes, two of the most famous Harlem Renais­sance fig­ures, knew that they and other writers had white women who helped sup­port them while they pro­duced their art. But these women were seen as ancil­lary to the process, referred to in the black writers’ let­ters and papers as the holders of purse strings that, when loos­ened, allowed the artist to con­tinue his work. Although, as we dis­cover through Kaplan’s book, that sup­port was not unconditional.

 

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