Deeply rooted racial logics of Western culture have long used animal metaphors and affiliations as a method for negatively coding the species permeability between black people and nonhuman animals. Responsively, many black cultural producers have sought to acquire access to the category of the human by crafting narratives that shuttle black being away from the animal. Rejecting both negative affiliations and shifting away from the animal, this article explores the movement toward the animal in black segregation-era literature. I argue that animals and animal care in Richard Wright’s Black Boy and primate liberation in Gwendolyn Brooks’s Maud Martha provide new modes of imagining black humanism on the cusp of US racial desegregation.

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