This article explores the way The White Boy Shuffle delinks American citizenship’s hold on Black political subjectivity. Through a narrative analysis of Shuffle’s protagonist and minor characters, the author argues that the novel forwards what cultural historian Nikhil Pal Singh calls the “negative dialectic of race.” At the level of the protagonist, Shuffle’s deliberate adherence to the conventions of the classical bildungsroman but failed achievement of its aesthetic-spiritual ideal of bildung leads to a breakdown of the dialectic that would reconcile Black history and social experience with American identity and citizenship. Yet, at the level of minor characters, Shuffle is less negating racial ideologies and more forwarding a global conceptualization of race. Specifically articulated through a series of non- Black or white minor characters, Shuffle offers alternative racial subjectivities to post–civil rights US racial common sense by highlighting racialized social and historical experiences beyond and below the horizon of the US nation-state as a reminder of the alternative global geographies of race. Ultimately, the novel both negates American citizenship as sufficient to the aspirations and desires of Black political life and reorients Black political subjectivity back to what Singh calls “Black worldliness.”

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