blackballed: the black vote and us democracy-darryl pinckney

“James Baldwin said that Martin Luther King Jr. was the first Negro leader to say to whites what he said to blacks.” (12)

“Obama seemed somewhat embarrassed by the Nobel Peace Prize, but that he was given the award was perhaps the Nobel Committee’s way of reiterating how relieved the world was that Bush and his cronies were gone.” (32)

“Obama’s reelection stimulated concern in some quarters about the price black Americans were paying for a black president.” (39)

“One thing about pessimism is that it feels sane. Pessimists are those who can’t be taken in, people who can’t be fooled. I told you so. But it is also a habit of mind. It reconciles us to being powerless. It justifies detachment, indifference. It is even fear of having power, as was that old feeling among some black people that by the time we got somewhere, that place was no good anymore.” (70)

this one seemed an appropriate one now that i have finally visited the philly free library where my favourite literary podcast of the past six years is recorded, and because i am currently watching season three of house of cards.

as the president approaches the end of his last term in office (as an aside, can we institute a cap on our national leader’s job?), i reflect on the books and essays that i have read with him as the subject, and i suppose canadian educational habits die hard-we keep abreast of what’s happening south of the border in a way that they never do about us.

but it’s too irresponsible not to be aware of the history and politics of the setting that much of the art and music that we love and are inspired by is created within. and the truth of that matter is that the reality of the creators of that art and music is much different than that of the dominant narrative (real or imagined) of the country, and it’s just one of the layers within the layers.

“What is good for minorities is good for the nation as a whole. The civil rights movement had given the US a way to escape McCarthyism. Now the civil rights movement must become a human rights movement.” (49)

“If Obama can get the US out of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, then he can get out of the ill-conceived War on Drugs that has done so much to criminalize the black population, people said. It’s as though the election results have been nullified by the other branches of government that are in the hands of conservatives.” (65)

“King understood that American officials couldn’t call for free elections in Europe when there weren’t free elections in Alabama or Georgia. The civil rights movement was going to complete the process of democratization in the US.” (13)

“In my memory, I am passing through the living room and catching a black-and-white glimpse, a TV picture of a black teen hurled backward by a water cannon. I don’t know if I saw at the time news footage of police dogs tearing at the shirttails of demonstrators or if a documentary has since given me the image as a stand-in for what I could have seen. In the souther tradition, there was much my parents didn’t want us to know.” (24)

“My father could perhaps understand the complexity of Jesse Jackson’s tears the night he watched Obama in victory in Grant Park in Chicago. My father’s embarrassed ambivalence about our first black president was an expression of his anxiety that he and his generation were being pushed aside, that Obama’s optimism about the country’s long-term future meant that the truth of his generation’s experience in a segregated America could be forgotten. And perhaps he was being visited by an old person’s jealousy of a younger person who has so much open road ahead of him still.
But my father would have recognized the white people of the Tea Party and in some ways been reassured. Tea Party people seemed to me much like the white people in the 1950s who were furious with Brown v. Board of Education, white people determined to obstruct implementation of desegregation orders.” (35-6)

and in the end, we all only want the best for our children. the devil in the details of whose children get to matter.

sunday morning cleaning soundtrack: illmatic

album kept:ayo x exile

most annoying and disrespectfully timed parade: the santa claus

library used: bloor/gladstone

podcast that continues to kill it: the read

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