James Baldwin and the Meaning of Whiteness – by Chris Hedges

James Baldwin and the Meaning of Whiteness

by Chris Hedges – Monday, February 20, 2017 – by Truthdig

James Ba;dwin

The work of James Baldwin, pictured here in 1969, is as relevant today as in his time. The essayist, novelist, poet and social critic died in 1987. (Photo: Allan Warren / Wikimedia Commons)

Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro” is one of the finest documentaries I have ever seen—I would have stayed in the theater in New York to see the film again if the next showing had not been sold out. The newly released film powerfully illustrates, through James Baldwin’s prophetic work, that the insanity now gripping the United States is an inevitable consequence of white Americans’ steadfast failure to confront where they came from, who they are and the lies and myths they use to mask past and present crimes. Baldwin’s only equal as a 20th century essayist is George Orwell. If you have not read Baldwin you probably do not fully understand America. Especially now.    

History “is not the past,” the film quotes Baldwin as saying. “History is the present. We carry our history with us. To think otherwise is criminal.”

The script is taken from Baldwin’s notes, essays, interviews and letters, with some of the words delivered in Baldwin’s voice from audio recordings and televised footage, some of them in readings by actor Samuel L. Jackson. But it is not, finally, the poetry and lyricism of Baldwin that make the film so moving. It is Peck’s understanding of the core of Baldwin’s message to the white race, a message that is vital to grasp as we struggle with an overt racist as president, mass incarceration, poverty gripping half the country and militarized police murdering unarmed black men and women in the streets of our cities.  [Read more]

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Comments

  • ndtewarie  On February 21, 2017 at 10:54 am

    THE WAR IS NEVER OVER

    When God made man he really made a man
    Man became a warrior and brought terror
    To all the lands even God wouldn’t understan’
    How did man become a robber and a fighter
    Was it jealousy for the neighbor’s wife
    His cattle or his neighboring land
    Was he not satisfied with his own life
    Willing to pillage with his band

    We don’t know and may never know
    For as long as we can recall
    He was making war with his fellow man
    And this was man’s downfall
    Then he would eventually dust himself off
    Make peace and even sign treaties
    Next thing you know he’s in another scoff
    Asking for blessing from his deities

    When Adam’s two sons fought bitterly
    Was this God’s way in a nutshell
    Imagine Adam looking on shockingly
    Only God and no one else can tell
    The Scriptures say God rejected Cain’s blessing of fruit
    Accepted Abel the shepherd’s which was a young kid
    Cain became angry so much so that he really execute
    His only brother, but can this caused him to blow his lid?

    Its as if man was really cursed from day one
    Since then the Bible & Koran reeked of violence
    Even the Gita has its share in this evil cauldron
    The other good books too took to no silence
    The Jews got the worst of the death scars
    From the Romans, Germans and Arabians
    Then hell broke loose with two World Wars

    We were born with fight or flight response
    But have become very numbed in our humane senses
    Now we are left with only to kill defense
    Losing our humanity and neglecting the consequences
    We’ve become lesser than animals, asses or mules
    Who only kill for food when they are hungry
    We have become geniuses in manufacturing tools
    The latest weapons just to destroy when angry

    Times of all eras have shown the war is never over
    Its hovering always like the Sword of Damocles
    Over the heads of those fighting far off yonder

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