In “Blueprint for Negro Writing” Richard Wright outlined what he saw as the imperative role of black writing in the development of the status of blacks in the United States. He argued that, historically, black writing had spent too much energy arguing for the humanity of the black race and not enough on articulating useful directions for the collective consciousness of black masses. Openly critical of the works that defined the Harlem Renaissance, Wright comments:
“Rarely was the best of this writing addressed to the Negro himself, his needs, his sufferings, his aspirations. Through misdirection, Negro writers have been far better to others than they have been to themselves. And the mere recognition of this places the whole question of Negro writing in a new light and raises a doubt as to the validity of its present direction.”
Characterizing the history of “Negro writing” as one which had created two distinct cultures, that of the unrecognized black masses and that of an elite, DuBoisian “talented tenth” class, his primer envisioned a literature that would take its cue from the black workers’ movement and incorporate a Marxian attitude to serve black interests beyond the limited ones of the black bourgeoisie. He specifies the contending forces within black communities:
“One would have thought that Negro writers in the last century of striving at expression would have continued and deepened this folk tradition, would have tried to create a more intimate and yet a more profoundly social system of artistic communication between them and their people. But the illusion that they could escape through individual achievement the harsh lot of their race swung Negro writers away from any such path…Today the question is: Shall Negro writing be for the Negro masses, moulding the lives and consciousness of those masses toward new goals, or shall it continue begging the question of the Negroes’ humanity?”
Wright sought a more inclusive and egalitarian mode of cultural production that would utilize the creative resources from all classes of African Americans and result in broader change in both the material and social conditions of African Americans. Though explicitly advancing a Marxist philosophy, at its heart, Wright himself seemed to remain ideologically loyal to American democratic idealism. Wright asserts that the view African American writers needed to embrace was one “of society as something becoming rather than as something fixed and admired.” Only in this way, reasoned Wright, would African American writers break away from the impulse to demonstrate their equality through artistry, an impulse which had contributed to the survival of the status quo by nominally elevating the black middle class, while changing little in the social, political, and economic reality of the larger black underclass. Wright felt as though the potential for social change was being squandered by the failure of the African American artistic community to link the future of the black masses to their own.