This is a great article on Baldwin with some fiery quotes I’d not heard. Much like Malcom, he was non-violent, but only to a point. As Malcolm said, we have the right of self-defense. Understanding that of course, is always tricky. This article is in response to people who criticized the author for suggesting that oppressed people should not feel constrained to follow traditional moral standards in protecting, saving, or helping the lives of their oppressors. I responded to the original article, “Let them fucking die”, by suggesting that though I understand the impulse, as Gandhi said, “An eye for eye will leave the whole world blind.” His response to me was:
“But it seems, John F. Eden, that white Americans are only concerned about a “true objective moral standard for our common humanity” when they fear that it may be them who are in danger, that it may be that their own lives are on the line.
Black people are expected to Mammy and Uncle Remus everyone else, to always, perpetually worry about the lives of others and to treat those lives as though they matter more than our own, but when we’re victims, everyone else uses sophistry and inhumanity to somehow blame us for our own predicaments.
We say Black Lives Matter, and white people lose their fucking minds at the thought, and simultaneously want to shoot us and want us to take bullets for them.
No. No longer.
I’m not advocating violence, but I am, indeed, advocating that white people, and any other anti-Black/anti-Queer people be left to their own devices.
The wages of bigotry is death and I say let bigots get what they paid for.”
“People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned.”
Sounds a lot like what Malcolm said about the chickens coming home to roost.
It’s an interesting article, and I have found all his writing that I’ve read well-done and thought-provoking in the extreme.
It seems to me that humanity is poised at the edge of a great and unforgiving precipice.
I often feel in these times that I am standing at that edge peering over into the void below, wondering what a plunge over would mean and how it would be possible to step back away from that edge, reimagine ourselves as part of this vast universe, redefine our place on this great spinning rock with its thin blanket of air, water, and life, and perhaps find our way back to the forests and grasslands that are our home.
Stimulated by an essay on Medium, I have just re-read, and re-posted on Shunyata’s Apprentice, something I wrote back in September of 2015, an essay on Ta-Nahisi Coates’ wonderful book Between the World and Me. Reading it in the context of the explosion of hatred and virulent, open racism that has characterized our society in the past six months leaves me a bit breathless, anxious, even fearful.
Coates’ brilliant conflation of the social forces that create racism and war with the impulses and social/economic structures that lead to the continuing destruction of the environment, viewed in the light of current events, puts me in fear of our lives.
We are truly clinging to that crumbling precipice by our fingernails.
I will re-post some of my past essays from Shunyata’s Apprentice here, and intend to transfer most of my current-events-related blogging to this site.