We are capable of bearing a great burden, once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is. – James Baldwin
When I first started this blog I posted an article titled The Fire this Time, with the title being an obvious reference to James Baldwin's classic text The Fire Next Time (a must read for its timeless insight into America’s psyche).
Forty-five years ago Baldwin poignantly and boldly asserted the inevitable: if America did not deal with its racial nightmare honestly and forthrightly, the oppressed would rage. And we did…in the summers of 1968…and then again in the rebellion of 1992.
But in this essay, I asserted that the fire this time would be different. I ended with this statement:
The fire this time is based not only on rage but resolve. We are getting better organized. We are utilizing technology and communicating more effectively. We are acting locally but thinking globally. We are keeping it more real and not falling for the hegemonic hustle. We now understand that like us, hip hop and the revolution will never die whether it’s televised or not. The Fire this Time is an eternal flame for justice. Rise up Hip Hop Nation! The torch is now yours. Let’s get free.
But as I told my classes yesterday, even with the masses awakening to the hoodwink of corporate capitalism and the politics of fear, I am wondering if those wanting change will have enough resolve to offset the fire of those that will do all they can do to save white supremacy (as demonstrated by political rallies that are looking more like lynch mobs every day).
While African Americans will be disappointed if Obama loses, I don't see any major unrest because we are used to racism, stolen elections, disappointments and tragedies. We've adapted to survive in this social and political environment and are too jaded to be surprised if it happens again. Upset sure...surprised never. In terms of African Americans and grassroots organizing, the real threat of an Obama loss is irrelevance.
Some Whites however, are only now reconciling with a reality that they have ignored their whole lives. They do not know how to survive in a world that is not like the one they've created in their own minds where their own supremacy is law. So with this election, violence seems much more probable with an Obama win, with disaffected whites not accepting reality.
Whether the fear mongers, or the agents of change (as I argued in the Fire this Time) win is up to the conscious among us with our actions being the arbiter.
Nowhere is this case more clearly stated than in James Baldwin’s classic text The Fire Next Time and this excerpt from the last page says it well:
When I was very young, and was dealing with my buddies in those wine- and urine-stained hallways, something in me wondered, What will happen to all that beauty? For black people, though I am that some of us, black and white, do not know it yet, are very beautiful.
...I could also see that the intransigence and ignorance of the white world might make that vengeance inevitable - a vengeance that does not really depend on, and cannot really be executed by, any person or organization, and that cannot be prevented by any police force or army: historical vengeance, a cosmic vengeance, based on the law that we recognize when we say, "Whatever goes up must come down." And here we are, at the center of the arc, trapped in the gaudiest, most valuable, and most improbable water wheel the world has ever seen. Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands; we have no right to assume otherwise. If we-and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create the consciousness of the others-do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world If we do not dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, recreated from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!
Final thought from my essay the Fire this Time:
As we continue to fight the many battles that plague our communities through service and activism, we must not lose sight of the larger race war that will continue to hover until it is effectively addressed. In other words, we must treat the symptoms to save the people now, but also expose the root to save humanity.
Interview with James Baldwin
I wish I had time to really write more about all the craziness that is going on...RE: this historic election and economic crisis. But I've already foreshadowed much of it in previous blog entries so if you haven't already, please read some of those: