Brief Reflections on What a “Black” Writer Should Do (or, rather, what I think “Black” writers should do)

In the global media, the African American has been obliterated as a human being and as an historical and cultural entity. In fact his identity and humanity are subject to change and manipulation at any given moment by forces more or less beyond his control. One moment he is an amusing entertainer, a powerful and loveable athlete; the very next he is a wild, raging beast who needs to be subdued.

Black American writing should be an effort to reclaim and reinvent, or reconstruct, a history and identity which has been relentlessly trivialized. Americans deny the importance of history because if they were to remember anything that they had truly done in their past, they would probably hang themselves in shame. American history, for the most part, is an ugly testimony to humanity’s failure; it shows one just how exceedingly monstrous people can be towards other people and towards their environment, and above all, just how immeasurably stupid, cruel and callous. The “history” is built on lies, and for a very simple reason that James Baldwin pointed out earlier: in order to tell the truth about the African American, one must tell the truth about every other American, particularly white Americans, and their interaction with African Americans. Such a truth telling would render virtually every American history book useless. The lies continue to the present day: idiots like T-Pain and T.I. and 50 Cent and the rest of the thug bunch were invented and hyped for a clear reason: so that the world can’t see the rest of us. The thugs are a smokescreen.

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