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Continuing on I Am Not Your Negro, "Notes of a Native Son" (1955), and The Fire Next Time (1963).
We (and Lawrence Ware) discuss Baldwin's critique of the American dream, how to oppose the inhumanity of others without becoming inhuman yourself, and Baldwin's take on religion. Plus, was the the documentary actually good as a film?
This continues part 1, or get the unbroken, ad-free Citizen Edition.
Supplement this with the Phi Fic discussion (featuring Mark!) on Baldwin's short stories “This Morning, This Evening, So Soon” (1960) and “Sonny’s Blues” (1957).
End song: "Dawning on Me" by Mark Lint feat. Ken Stringfellow, who was interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music ep. 39. Read about it.
Check out partiallyexaminedlife.com/shirts for new T-shirt designs in the PEL store.
Very interesting. I was hoping you guys would do something on James Baldwin. Last night I listened to one of the “white privilege” episodes and was thinking that the conversation was missing a perspective that James Baldwin offers. Looking forward to listening to these episodes.
My view on racism and Baldwin is that Baldwin recognized racism as something temporal moving through us and making us it’s own identity. My experience with racism is that it travels down through a heirarachy. I see this as the most interesting character of race and racism. So it than, maybe, take on a the sole identity of a political tactic originating from a higher order in the social hierarchy exploiting the inherent tribalism in society. The identity politics question vectors largely at the intersection of community and judicial and intellectual overeach. Presuppositions that race and punishment are linked is off the mark when one looks at links between legislation and politics seeding the division. Solving race by framing the problem in race in my observation is exactly how I would use race as politician or intellectual to subjugate a race. Like Pandora the reversal is impossible, we have to deal with the more abstract problems that are universally against our human constitution and those that directly threaten it.
Christianity is a balancing act that can’t be written off because it’s personal, and will be replaced by something impersonal which is more dangerous. I really think Baldwin would have a lot to say about tecytology, semantics, and media. Religion in my evangelical commumity is the screen saver of a more complex system tending towards the violent climb to a melting pyramid. The system behind their dialectics falls right in line with a sociopaths business model.
Bryce Keeler says
Just listening to this episode now, so far it is an excellent addition to the white privilege episode. James Baldwin seems to be a truly impressive intellectual who I look forward to learning more about.
I find a lot of cogency in the idea of a self-destructive and corrupting aspect inherent to any attempt at supporting racial superiority (Wes makes the excellent analogy to Hegel’s master-slave dialectic). A book which excellently expounds upon this idea is – “The Colonizer and the Colonized” – by Albert Memmi. In the book, Memmi produces psychological profiles of typical Colonizers and Colonized, all whilst creating a convincing portrait of their societal interactions and their inevitable futures. In the end, The picture painted feels very similar to that of the relationship between White and Black peoples, giving more credence to the idea of intersectionality often advocated for in social justice circles. In addition to being an excellent piece of psychological/philosophical writing, it also gives some great historical insights regarding Colonial situations in general, as well as the one specific to Tunisia.
I would highly recommend “The Colonizer and the Colonized” to anyone interested in pursuing these ideas, as well as to the podcast as a potential future episode if y’all ever feel like returning to the topic of Social Justice.
Luke T says
Identity politics coda:
Elucidations episode #107: Linda Martín Alcoff discusses identity and history