A very revealing article and depressing by virtue of the fact that cognizance of the realities is still remote and for the most part, unrecognized, but it is still a truism.
It might have been written in the sixties, but you only have to look around and see people today to know that some things have just not changed that much. If a black youth ends up “dealing” it’s because he is black(so if he’s not black and is indeed white, why is he dealing – because he’s white?)and we needn’t expect any better from him. If a blackman dresses smartly and is comfortable with his identity – he is “uppity” in the eyes of so many, including those who are not aware of their inherent bigotry, so this article still has much to impart in our societal psyche that must be acknowledged in order to be addressed. It must be said also, that unless you are black, it is not possible to put oneself in their shoes, since a white persons privilege is something taken for granted from the moment it was a child waking up to awareness of their rightful place but based on a totally different set of criteria not afforded the black child. Prejudice is not only applicable to people of colour, but religion also. An Irish Catholic living in the time of the IRA dominated war on Britain, was always going to be suspect despite being married to a British C of E so the answer was not to advertize the fact, not even to the children. The difference of course, lies in the fact that a person of colour is not able to hide their “sins” by birth. With a blatantly obviously Irish surname, no way were my parents going to send me to a Catholic school or Church – I went to a C of E school and thus integrated just fine and dandy, because no-one knew my “sin” of birth.
From the sixties to the noughties, much of this article is still relevant, the problem is acknowledging the fact as a truth.
“A Talk to Teachers” — By James Baldwin
(Norm’s note: a person who is not necessarily American, but who is of “working class” origin, whether American or not and not a ‘negro’ living in America, will understand perfectly the psychological effects of which Baldwin speaks. I know that I did and do. Baldwin is therefore, in my estimation, a voice for all of the oppressed and exploited everywhere, the U.S. being but a ‘specific’ instance of the more general “condition” that obtains everywhere under capitalism, and, therefore, his talk is actually also an address to teachers everywhere, as pressing today as it was when he delivered it. And I also know that he would wholeheartedly agree with me.)
(Delivered October 16, 1963, as “The Negro Child – His Self-Image”; originally published in The Saturday Review
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