17 America-Related Things James Baldwin Said Better Than Anybody Else.


American Wise Man

Here on the Fourth of July, the day this great nation celebrates its independence with fireworks, hot dogs and collective attack of amnesia over its bloody, violent and racist past, it’s good to read some of the writings of James Baldwin.

1. “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.”

2.  “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

3. “I’m not interested in anybody’s guilt. Guilt is a luxury that we can no longer afford. I know you didn’t do it, and I didn’t do it either, but I am responsible for it because I am a man and a citizen of this country and you are responsible for it, too, for the very same reason… Anyone who is trying to be conscious must begin to dismiss the vocabulary which we’ve used so long to cover it up, to lie about the way things are.”

4. “Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?”

5.  “It comes as a great shock…to discover that the flag to which you have pledged allegiance…has not pledged allegiance to you.”

6.  “It is dangerous to be an American Negro male. America has never wanted its Negroes to be men, and does not, generally, treat them as men. It treats them as mascots, pets, or things.”

7. “It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.”

8. “Not a thousand years ago, it was illegal to teach a slave to read. Not a thousand years ago, the Supreme Court decided that separate could not be equal. And today, as we sit here, no one is learning anything in this country. You see a nation which is the leader of the rest of the world, that had to pay the price of that ticket, and the price of that ticket is we’re sitting in the most illiterate nation in the world. THE MOST ILLITERATE NATION IN THE WORLD. A monument to illiteracy. And if you doubt me, all you have to do is spend a day in Washington. I am serious as a heart attack.”

9.  “The American revolution, the terms are these: not that I drive you out or that you drive me out, but that we come together and embrace and learn to live together. That is the only way that we can have achieved the American revolution. “

10. “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.”

11.  “I have met only a very few people – and most of these were not Americans – who had any real desire to be free. Freedom is hard to bear. It can be objected that I am speaking of political freedom in spiritual terms, but the political institutions of any nation are always menaced and are ultimately controlled by the spiritual state of that nation. We are controlled here by our confusion, far more than we know, and the American dream has therefore become something much more closely resembling a nightmare, on the private, domestic, and international levels.”

12.  “Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be”

13. “The American ideal is, after all, that everyone should be as much alike as possible.”

14.  “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.”

15.  “I know what the world has done to my brother and how narrowly he has survived it. And I know, which is much worse, and this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen, and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. “

welcome to america

16.  “A big, sandy-haired man held his daughter on his shoulders, showing her the Statue of Liberty. I would never know what this statue meant to others, she had always been an ugly joke for me. And the American flag was flying from the top of the ship, above my head. I had seen the French flag drive the French into the most unspeakable frenzies, I had seen the flag which was nominally mine used to dignify the vilest purposes: now I would never, as long as I lived, know what other saw when they saw a flag.”

17.  “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

The Damage One Ignorant Negro Can Do: A Hate Story in Three Parts

“No suh. I don’t know who stole the last big piece of chicken.”

All I cared about was finding answers, no matter who had them. When, later on, I began to associate with conservatives, it was because their ideas were closer to mine than liberals’ ideas, not because I saw myself as one of them. I’d already noticed that it was liberals, not conservatives, who were most likely to condescend to blacks, but I assumed, like the good radical I once was, that liberals and conservatives were simply two different breeds of snake, one stealthy, the other openly hostile.

~ Clarence ThomasMy Grandfather’s Son (pages 107-108)

My dad told me there’s no difference between a black snake and a white snake. They both bite.

~ Thurgood Marshall at a press conference announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

It’s said that hate is a wasteful emotion.  It’s said that hating someone is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.  It’s said that hating someone means renting space in your head and they probably don’t even know how much you hate them.

I accept all that to be true.  But I still hate Clarence Thomas.   I’ve done a good job of getting away from the days when I was quick to call someone an Uncle Tom.   Thomas has been a massive failure as a judge on the Supreme Court, but beyond that he’s not just bad; he’s evil.

My good friend, Denise Clay, the Mad Political Scientist and I had a Facebook debate where she asked me wasn’t I being a bit rough when I described Uncle Clarence Thomas as a “lawn jockey?”

My response is I’m just upset  EMERGE magazine beat me to it. I’d be a lot less hard on Uncle Thomas if he were a lot less hard on Black folks.

Two wrongs never make a right, Jeff…

Denise, EMERGE wasn’t wrong. Thomas has been a complete disaster. He’s the ultimate argument against affirmative action. An unqualified, unprepared bumbler who got his job only because Bush needed a Black conservative to replace Thurgood Marshall and Uncle Thomas was ready and on the case.

Calling people things like Uncle Toms, Lawn Jockeys and the like are dialogue stoppers.

Dialogue stoppers? I don’t WANT to dialogue with Uncle Thomas and his worthless ass. FUCK Clarence Thomas. I’d rather have a hardcore White conservative that hates Black folks like Scalia than a punk-ass sell-out like Thomas.

But you don’t neutralize him this way. You make him a martyr…which makes him stronger…

Fine. Let hit be a martyr. I don’t give a shit as long as he’s no longer on the Supreme Court making life hell for 36 million Black Americans, give or take a few conservatives.

I’m tired of hearing about how we need to reach out to Black folks who think and act like Uncle Thomas. Why isn’t HE reaching out to US? You never see Thomas go to a HBCU, an NAACP convention, or on Black oriented radio, television, newspaper or website trying to reach out to Black people. And you know what? YOU NEVER WILL.

“Every day we shufflin'”

Uncle Thomas doesn’t care what Denise Clay thinks. He damn sure doesn’t care what Jeff Winbush thinks. White people–specifically White conservatives–are the ONLY people he cares about. He cares very much about what they think. Why else would he throw his own sister under the bus for the entertainment of White conservatives? Thomas is whom we thought he was. A sell-out. A house Negro. A lawn jockey for the White Right.

And Ms Clay says calling him so shut down the possibility of dialogue. During WWII, did the French sit down to discuss their differences with Nazi collaborators? Clarence sleeps with the enemy. Literally, not figuratively.

Instead of playing Henry Kissinger with the low-life likes of Uncle Clarence, I opt for going Sgt. Vernon Walters from ‘A Soldier’s Story‘ on his ass:

“Them Nazis ain’t all crazy. Whole lot of people just can’t seem to fit in to where things seem to be going. Like you, CJ. See, the Black race can’t afford you no more. There used to be a time, we’d see someone like you singin’, clownin’, yassuh-bossin’… and we wouldn’t do anything. Folks liked that. You were good. Homey kind of nigger. When they needed somebody to mistreat, call a name or two, they paraded you. Reminded them of the good old days. Not no more. The day of the Geechee is gone, boy. And you’re going with it.”

Black people can’t afford self-hating, race traitors like Uncle Clarence Thomas no more. As someone who used to admire Malcolm X before he went mad and peddled his ass and soul, Uncle Thomas should understand how Malcolm warned us of Uncle Toms.

And calling him an Uncle Tom is a much better solution…

When he walks like an Uncle Tom, talks like an Uncle Tom, and acts like an Uncle Tom, it would highly inaccurate not to call Uncle Thomas an Uncle Tom.

Would you prefer I call him a duck?

Your desire to sit down and attempt to reason with an unreasonable man is charming and sweet and hopelessly doomed to failure. The problem is you think Uncle Thomas has a problem you can help him fix. He doesn’t think he has a problem. He thinks YOU do.

On the Supreme Court Marshall defended Blacks. Thomas dogs out Blacks.

I just have a problem with the name calling. All it does is strengthen his position with the forces that want to do us in. Do I like this guy? No. He’s a bit of an ass. But Uncle Tom has a definite implication and I don’t think that I have the right to judge who is Black and who is not.

(I remember “A Soldier’s Story” too..)

Well, Niecey, I’ll put it like this. Many Black folks take offense to hearing the word “nigger” casually applied, but as Chris Rock put it, we know there’s a vast difference between how Black people and niggers behave, do we not?

It is undeniable there are Black people whose only purpose in life is to do dirt to other Blacks. Whether they were House Negroes giving aid and comfort to the White slave owners or the sell-outs that betrayed other Field Negroes who tried to rebel and escape their oppression, there have ALWAYS been Blacks happy to sell-out other Blacks just so long as they get over.

If you want me to lay out a case against Uncle Clarence Thomas and why I consider him a race traitor, sell-out, Uncle Tom House Negro who hates Blacks and loves Whites, I got no problem doing so.

Not that I’m trying to change your mind, but to make you understand I didn’t just wake up hating Clarence Thomas and everything he stands for. I’ve been hip to this head scratchin”, eye-rolling, chicken-n’-biscuit eatin’ Negro for some time,  long before George Bush desecrated the Supreme Court and mocked Thurgood Marshall by  replacing him with the Uncle Thomas shufflin’ minstrel show.

But talk is cheap.  I have my reasons to hate Uncle Thomas.  Very definite reasons and in my next post I’m going to focus on another member of the Supreme Court who is a worthy challenger to Thomas for the title of The Worst Justice Ever and may–operative word “may”–have hated Blacks even more than Thomas.