Langston Hughes's “Red-Headed Baby” offers a case study wherein a child's counter-surveillant gaze resonates narratively and culturally to confront racist authority and claim African American belonging in the United States. Playing overtly with the subject/object relation that positions gazer and gazee in a power hierarchy ultimately destabilized by a mixed-race child, the story wraps the potential for defeat of white oppression and spatializing demands for belonging in the body and gaze of the child of color. Thus, Hughes constructs his titular red-headed baby as a disruptive force to the texture of the narrative itself, calling attention to the child gaze as an incisive tool for social critique.

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