Kate Baldwin is the author of Beyond the Color Line and the Iron Curtain: Reading Encounters Between Black and White 1922-1963 (2002) and The Racial Imaginary of the Cold War Kitchen, from Sokol’niki Park to Chicago’s South Side (2016). She teaches American Studies and Rhetoric at Northwestern University.
When race is pictured historically, it often is removed from leftist radicalism. (Ellison’s novel Invisible Man is about Harlem in the 1930s, a decade when even middle of the road intellectuals were at their most socialist.) Likewise, when the “American” is imagined, it is at a distance from the mobility of artistic lives, influences and historical factors, including the circuits of Soviet communism (mentioned, briefly, in a sign about “industry and labor” in “After the Fall”).