Not only was he one of the finest writers of his day, he was one of the finest orators as well. To hear him speak! While the racial reality of the United States has changed significantly since Baldwin spoke, forty-plus years ago now, the reality of alienation at the heart of Baldwin’s critique remains. And racism remains; now even more leavened by class. Baldwin’s alienation, his own and his appreciation of it, is heightened by his vast empathy.
Apropos the previous post. Listen. Do you hear echoes of your own life? How much has changed for poor blacks, for the poor in general, for immigrants, for all those on the outside looking in? The dislocation between the ideal and the reality is, as ever, ever present. The schism in our society between those that take and those taken from is as great as any time; including the time of chattel. Are not the truths he tells yet to be recognized? If we haven’t confronted our racial history, how can we claim to have moved on from it? I hear a warning still.