Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another Country

Welcome back to free convection.  It's been a while. Since I've last written, I've:
-moved to Rochester (and found an apartment)
-got married to the most amazing woman on the planet
-gone on a honeymoon to Puerto Rico

Since returning, I've been looking for a job, collecting books, building bookshelves, and interviewing ministries that serve "the least of these" in Rochester.  It's a fun existence, but lonely while Belinda is working 10 hour days at Harris.

I just finished reading Another Country by James Baldwin.  The following is about a page of it, near the end of the book.  Two women, one black, one white, talking about race relations in the US. It moved me.

WARNING: some of the language used here is pretty... descriptive. If you have a problem with swearing, don't tempt yourself.

Cass looked at the dark, proud head, which was half-turned away from her. "Do you hate white people, Ida?"
Ida sucked her teeth in anger. "What the hell has that got to do with anything? Hell, yes, sometimes I hate them, I could see them dead. And sometimes I don't. I do have a couple of other things to occupy my mind." Her face changed. She looked down at her fingers, she twisted her ring. "If any one white person gets through to you, it kind of destroys your--single-mindedness. They say that love and hate are very close together. Well, that's a fact." She turned to the window again. "But, Cass, ask yourself, look out and ask yourself--wouldn't you hate all white people if they kept you in prison here?" They were rolling up startling Seventh Avenue. The entire population seemed to be int he streets, draped, almost, from lamp posts, stoops, and hydrants, and walking through the traffic as though it were not there. "Kept you here, stunted you and starved you, and made you watch your mother and father and sister and lover and brother and son and daughter die or go mad or go under, before your very eyes? And not in a hurry, like from one day to the next, but, every day, every day, for years, for generations? Shit. They keep you here because you're black, the filthy, white cock suckers, while they go around jerking themselves off with all that jazz about the land of the free and the home of the brave. And they want you to jerk yourself off with that same music, too, only, keep your distance. Some days, honey, I wish I could turn myself into one big fist and grind this miserable country to powder. Some days, I don't believe it has a right to exist. Now, you've never felt like that, and Vivaldo's never felt like that. Vivaldo didn't want to know my brother was dying because he doesn't want to know that my brother would still be alive if he hadn't been born black."
"I don't know if that's true or not," Cass said, slowly, "but I guess I don't have any right to say it isn't true."
"No, baby, you sure don't," Ida said, "not unless you're really willing to ask yourself how you'd have made it, if they'd dumped on you what they dumped on Rufus. And you can't ask yourself that question because there's no way in the world for you to know what Rufus went through, not in this world, not ask long as you're white." She smiled. It was the saddest smile Cass had ever seen. "That's right, baby. That's where it's at."

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