Free and brave / James Baldwin
Well on one program the Pacifica program service and radio are your life and I want you to pretend you are delivering on some state somewhere in the world as though these lines never been heard before. The Oh say that Angola band did away. Or the land. Are free and the home of the brave. I want you. To somehow make a certain leap with me that I one more quotation I want to. Give you. And this comes from Nietzsche.
Because and that's because of his driving. But it's been in my mind all week long. Then point. Demands that. I stand before my eyes and for my longest journey. And therefore must I descend deeper. And I have to send it. Now. There are several thousand things.
That one has got to say. In the context of every speech. Out of which we speak. And I suppose the first thing I have to. Suggest. Is that one. Consider the fact. That. In the life of a man the right woman in anybody's life. There are several elements of it to work. With the clues and I want a good one to consider here. Is that element of life which we consider to be invented in. The way in which one puts one's hour together. The way one imagined oneself to be.
The reality. For example the invented reality. Standing for an arbitrary call Jimmy ball. Who contains a great many other things. We have agreed we have succeeded in striking a certain kind of bottom of the world. This is his name and it is what it is and it's who we are. OK but that's not it. Beneath that. Wherever. Where everybody. Is something else. Is a stranger the stranger with whom one is forced to do. Day in and day out. Forced in fact to discover. Forth and back to create as distinct from invent. Life demands of everyone a certain kind of timidity the humility to be able to make the dissent.
They did she was talking about. There is there are two ways I think. I think there are two ways only to achieve a life or nation. Let's consider abit personal because I think it may be the easiest way for me to say it and maybe you will take my word. And. The whole business of communication of communion really is a find some common term. To make something mean to you. Some roughly what it means to me. In my life as I'm sure your life will manage on one supposes there is some way to avoid it.
Then spell it out. I mean that when one of when I was a little boy. I tell my mother we do this we do that and we go here I'm going to go there and be writing with fire and. I'm going to do. Do we do this. And Mama look at me and she would say. It's more than a notion. It took me a long time a very long time to begin to realize that she was right and begin to realize what she meant. I like all of us thought I knew what I wanted. And thought I knew who I was and thought that I could do it and we all do this. Whatever it was I
wanted everybody to go I thought that I could do it. Without paying my dues. With the wrong things that one cannot imagine. Especially when one job. Is how to pay your dues. You're even though there are dues to be paid. And there are no. One begins to discover. And with great pain and very much against one's will. But if you want something what ever it is you want. And whatever it is you wanted bottom must be to become yourself. There is nothing else to want. Whatever that is however whatever that journey is. When it's got to accept the fact that disaster is a condition under which you will make it the journey I mean not make it in the American sense.
And you are doing and certainly immunity because. The term that you have invented. Would you think describe and define you. Inevitably collide. With the facts of life. And when this collision occurred and make no mistake this is an absolutely never typically. When this collision occurs like two trains in a tunnel. One's got a choice. And it's a very narrow truck. I holding on. To your definition of yours out. By saying it's the old folks used to say.
And everybody wants to live has a say. Yes a lot. Which means you say yes to life. Until you can do that. You're not picking the man or woman. Now in this country. What are the odds of them. Which could become attractive. Of being what. Is known. Somewhat arbitrary as an American. Because activity until this moment. And the collective delusion until this moment. Has been precisely my delusion when I was a little boy.
That you could get what you wanted. And become what you said you were going to be painlessly. Furthermore. If one examines. It. For a second. Or one tribe. The problem. America and. Wellness got first of all. It to be an American means. A catalogue of virtues. When something grow I am an american day in. Which I gather is meant to reassure everybody
with you all. Oh yeah. And to be an American in these terms of power I mean. Check me out you think about it. And I mean. They don't know Greek Armenian strips. French means English Scotch Scotsman Italian. Maybe corrupt. Sexual. Unpredictable. Lazy. Evil. A little lower than the angels. We are not cooperating of Oh I'm quite overlooking. The fact. That the country was settled
by. Englishman Scott German. Turks and I mean insulated to be sure. Every nation under heaven is here. And not after all a very long time. I think. That it might be useful. To. Know to survive our present crisis. To do what any individual. Is forced to do to survive this crisis. Which is to look back at his beginning. The beginnings of his country. It seems to be but it's a banality to say it. But alas it has to be said. The readings of these kind of this country have nothing whatever to do. With the mess
we have created about it because it did not come about because. The handful of people in Europe various parts of Europe. So I want to be free. And trying to build a boat or a raft and cross the Atlantic Ocean. Not at all not at all. In passing let me remark. That the word liberty. The word freedom are terribly misused words. Liberty is a fact which is also used as a slogan and freedom may be the very last thing. That people want. The very last thing. Anyway.
The people who settle in the country the people who came here. And impro one reason no matter how disguise. They came here because. They thought to be better here. Than where they work. That's why they get. It. And that's the only reason that they get. Anybody who is making it in England or beyond did not get on the main plaza and they were the only. This isn't problems it is important
that one begin to recognize this. Because of the NEMA. Of this country. Is that it comes. It is managed to believe the myth. It has created about its own past. Which is not a way of saying. That it isn't and not not its past. And we all know what we think about it. What happens to a person. Who was born to say well I wrote a poem. In a hologram. And girls were pretending he was born in Sutton Place. However Robbins made sound. Also happens to a nation a nation being wary of finally coming into existence. The achievement. Of the people who make it up. And. The Pollyanna nature. Being absolutely at their
mercy. Defying dictated. By the nature and the poverty of the people who make it up. In this extraordinary way. And they have to create the country called America. A great many crimes were committed. And I want to make it absolutely clear as clear as I can make it. That I understand perfectly well that crime is universal and common. And I trusted no one will assume. That I am indicting or accusing. I'm not any longer interested in the crime. People treat each other very badly and
always have. And very probably always will. I'm not talking about that which I'm talking about denying what one does. Which is much more sinister matter. We did several things in order to conquer the country. They were just. At the point we reached the shore. A group of people who. Had never heard of the machine. Or as far as I know of money. I think were called in our backward nation. And we promptly eliminated them. We killed I'm talking about in case you don't know what I'm talking about. Well a lot of. People have done this for centuries.
But. I hazarded. I'll bet you as you said Batman did not many American children are taught American history. Have any real sense of what that collision was like. Or what we really did how we really achieved the extermination of the Indians. Why that man. And it is interesting to consider that very few social critics. None to my knowledge. I say very few. Have begun even to analyze. The hidden reasons. The cowboy Indian legend is still one of the most popular
actions in American life so popular that. The three dominates the television screen. And I suppose. You can enjoy that particular item of clothing with a mold. That almost cowboy Indian story. I designed it to reassure us. That no crime was committed. We made a legend of the mask. Which connection if I may for a moment the crafts they used to be an old joke around my negroes if you remember the Lone Ranger I think he had a sidekick called Tom in India. There's always a good Indian. Around the yard. With hero he rode out of the range and according to my reading of the
story I read and I are talking to him. The Lone Ranger ran into this. Ambush you're nothing but India with I know you said what are we going to do talk about it I was there what do you mean we were OK. That's laboring. Like murder. Is one of the only lists of human institutions. That we cannot crawl about the fact of slavery that is to say we could do this. That's another story. But when snake him because. In order to conquer the country we had to have. Cheap labor.
And the man. Who is now known as the American Negro. Who is one of the owners of American citizens. And the only one. Who never wanted to come here. With a in the. I know you. Did the dirty work. Oh because you have gotten chopped off and what have you gotten beyond beyond blind track. In fact I think it is not too strong a statement to say they have
it this way. Without his presence. Without that straw about. The American economy the American nation would have had a vast amount of trouble creating its capital. If then it when I had not had. Been talking about it in the mail as you put it. It would be a very different country. And it would certainly be much poorer. And that's alright. But the people I speak you know in the south of the country. Had a paedo floor.
They could see they could recognize a man when they saw one. They knew he wasn't. I mean you can tell. They knew he wasn't anything else but a man. But since they were Christian. And since they had already decided. That they came here to establish a free country. And some of them really meant it that way. The only way to justify the role of this shadow was playing in one's life. Was to say that he was not a man because he was a man.
No crime had been committed. That. Is the basis. That. Is the basis. Of our present trouble. Because that is a streamlet complex lie. If on the one hand one man. Cannot avoid recognizing another man. It is also true then obviously that the man the black man who is in captivity. And treated like an animal and told that he was one. Knew but he was a man. And knew that something was wrong. When we got here. Those of us who survived
the Middle Passage. Let me tell you a very small and I was in that car about a year ago. And just oh there is a very small island called Gori which is one. Property of the Portuguese. And it's simply a rock. With a fortress. It is the nearest from Africa the nearest point to America. I'm inside in my sister and I went to this island. They had something called the slave house and we went there to visit it and the House is not terribly large.
Looks like a house you see and you are. It's a truth. About two story courtyard staircase on each side stone staircase. And the bottom section which is the first story I assume that happens in the slavers are upstairs. Downstairs or slave quarters. Which were. You walk through a kind of archway. On either side of you very dark and this is made of stone. Or a series of on the stone floor. Still rusted. Iron. In the wall. It seemed to me it was maybe imagination but it seemed to me. That I could still smell it. What it
must have smelled like with all those human being chained together in such a place. I remember they could not speak to each other. So they didn't come in the same. I decided I say in this crowd you know the. Straight ahead of you. You come into this with archway and straight ahead of you is a very much smaller doorway maters. Which opens on the sea. You go to the edge of the door and you look down at your feet. Some black stones the foam of the landing ocean bubbling up against. You. And then I was there we were there. I
tried. But it's impossible. Because the ocean is just right. I try to imagine what it must have felt like. To find yourself chained. And speechless. And those serious hands that were. On your way land. I'm going to test it for a minute. There's intuition around the friend and I almost hit one of them on the head you know they know they will know. But it hurt. Anyway. It was the Black Man Saturday once he got here
to accept the cross. Because he had. To somehow managed to outwit. His Christian master. Because when he got here. Was really the Bible and the God. And that's all right. Too. What is terrible in it. Is the fact. That American white men are not a pair. First of all. To believe for example my version of this story. To believe that it happened in order to avoid believing that. They have set up in
themselves. Of antacids system. Of age and denial of justification. Which is destroyed. Or is about to destroy. Their grasp of reality. Which is another way of saying their moral stance. But I'm trying to say. Is that the crime. Is not the most important thing here. What makes our situation serious. Is that we have spent so many generations pretending that it did not. If you doubt me. Ask yourself. I want something rests on what assumptions rest those extraordinary questions the white man asks.
No matter how politely. I want to somehow. Rest the question. Would you let your sister I am is based on some preoccupation and somebody or am I. God knows you know I've never given any evidence. And I have never to kill a problem. I'm not interested in marrying your sister. My God Yahweh. I mean that. I want to Sumption what assumptions again. Rest extraordinary question. What is an integral. This is again. I was out of some extraordinary preoccupation
in. Something and tiring if I may say so divorced from reality. It's like saying. What you see you see. I don't know. It isn't real. As unreal can be. But maybe you don't ask a baby what it was and you find out you know you change a baby's diaper. That's what you do. You know you don't want your next door neighbor and say Where's my baby rock. Let's go back a minute. Do I start. Let's go back to Nietzsche. I stand before. My highest mountain.
And before my longest journey. And therefore I stand sad and deep that I would of course and we spoke a little earlier about the necessity when the collision between your two might occur. Saying yes to life. That's the decider. It's. The difference. Between a boy and a man. Is it a boy imagine. There is some way to get through life safely. And Amanda has got to pay his due. In this country the entire nation
has always assumed that I would pay their dues for what it means to be a Negro in this country. Is it you represent you are the receptacle are you. All the disaster our rich white America saying. This is what is man. Really what is meant by keeping a glorious place. It is why white people until today I still astounded. And then it. Is by some. Miscalculation. They are for suspecting that you are not happy in
your party. Is that absolutely true. I don't know and I'm not talking about the Deep South. He will finally say to you. BUT YOU'RE SO PUT UP OR AS OF were of of. Their own in this country or Davis the last. Two level of the Spirit. One new rule but I think quite truthfully it. Can be summed up in the image of Doris Day in Jericho. I think you know and you know what they do.
And the subterranean indispensable. But it's not. But you sound a very say. In the tone of Ray Charles. And there's never been in this country. And a real. Confrontation. Between these two realities. Let me force you or try to force you to zero hour hours. Oh all white Americans in essence essentially came from Europe. It is only American Negroes who in Europe understand. Let me spell it out. When America grows in Europe he and the people who need guidance our MRO. Are able austerity
that which white Americans have great difficulty establishing if they ever do. And the reason is race the. European. And the black Americans know what it is. And Americans doubt that the bill but its endeavor. To get from the cradle to the grave. Looking like Eisenhower. Is now in the end. Why people are as down about bailing out. Black people are out. White people are endlessly demanding to be reassured. They were doing I was really on Mars. They don't more to relieve.
A. Deal less to act on or believe. They what is happening in Birmingham. Now I mean this. And I'm not exaggerating. There are several or thousand ways to kill a man. There's several. Several ways the route. They don't want to realize that there is not. One step one in. Morally. Well actually there is no distance between burying them in the laws and. Of law. The edge of.
That is entirely possible. That we may or on their own. But until that happens. I referred to really. As a society is created by man. It can be remade. The price. For this transformation. Is how. White. Will have to ask. There was so. Precisely why they aren't necessary. To invent. And they were. Because they invented him. For reasons out of necessity of their own. And every white series in this country.
Will have to accept the fact. That he is not innocent. The doors in those holes. Those are being. Committed. In your name. Black people. Will have to do something very hard to come. Already. Which is to allow. The whites it is in. The. First awkward steps totally cured. But
we have a function in this country because I see no way. For a very long time. We were the first of its kind. The reason I ought is move it along. All of this. May make. You got. Fancy. But those are the conditions. Thank you. With her first I must report that there were over 100 questions asked and we selected those that we thought were more pertinent knowledge so that those that we put aside those were duplicate. The first one. Mr Bowen.
Read Could you please comment on the Muslim situation and the significance of their movement. There's no evidence of a mother move. It would seem to me first of all whether this is a this is a complicated question of the common good and. The Mother Movement came about exist and begin to flourish because the American public has never had any. I would repeat any I would do as a black. Citizen. That is very significant to me
it has. I don't think. It is at the moment. Probably the only way that a black or a girl. If you go back it is probably not the only way. One of the only way that a girl can be invested with a pride. In the fact. Of being last. And this is extremely him for a will. The entire country having lived and the entire right to live they should. Have been lied about by
people so on until this very do this very moment with absolutely no and I don't care to go over that. See this. Jack. I am perfectly aware or be aware that I will go on in the ghetto raise their back never left really these days in this country. I am very aware I think. Of the moral outrage and the despair and the destruction which is being bred in those ghettos every single hour of every single day. And I know every black person
in this country deriving any sense of resolve. And yet. There are two ways to arrive at this. And this is I don't think it is. Perhaps it is. They would have been one of the strongest. One of them is true. White people have done it for all of generation is lived out it was out and they put on the color of their skin totally proud of that they have said in effect for 2000 years they're better than everyone else in the world because they are white and look and look at the result. The spiritual the actual political result is nothing more or less than a mile on the spiritual bankruptcy because it is not true
that the color of the skin has any importance in a human life. I know that it seems to and I know. The people who perished because of the color of their skin but it is not because of the color of their skin really is because of the value placed on me. Is because of what it means in the eyes of someone out on their own. I want from the very bottom of my back people in this country. I arrive at. A real sense of who they are and I understand that life being what it is and power being what it is. That it is entirely possible that the world will have been about it for the next two thout. On the basis of the call of the road to burst. Speaking only for myself. I would like to see this happen. Speaking for myself
my objective of the movement is to probe. I do not see that they have. An articulate program by which I mean such things as a Red Stripe. I mean a real revolution. And. I do not want my nephew or my son to begin to believe that he is better than white people because he is black. I don't think one needs to invest and I think the Negro people in this country have any need to invent. A reason to be proud they have achieved already. I know but this is true. There which even you and try and turn to their advantage already. One of the cruelest implications in the history of man.
I think that we have every right to be proud. To be proud. With. The mother was out for bed. Kerry Washington there it is. And even to be proud I hope you will see what I mean. They knew that as a Yes No madam and get what they want any way that they are with it. This civilization to the extent that. We have it in this civilization to the extent that they took that and cost them they took that. And made it something that had never been before in this country. And they took that anguish and turned it into music.
And they have the only people in this country on the basis of the evidence. Who've been able to use children. To walk through. To get to school. They're the only people in this country. So as a body we didn't have any sense of what America is about and the American Revolution if I may say so dependent at the moment on baronet. Now this is a tremendous area. And I would not like to throw it away. One invented one. Of the. A bit but.
Is there a relationship between the African independence movement and the present day struggles of the Negro people in the United States today. That's a complex question too. As many a question which the American government. Is determined not to face. We are living. Whether or not J Edgar Hoover likes it. In an age of revolution. There's nothing any of us can do about that. Except say no or say yes. To 20 million negroes in this country. I not only involve them but I'm involved. With the events of the revolution in Africa.
But with the revolution all over the world. We have made for the reason that when I was talking to you earlier the mistake of thinking. That when we speak only we are listening we made the wrong ordinary mistake of assuming what we think is is what Cuba is. I don't know and this is. This is really what has what appears to be about the Russian. I don't know. For example is the variance. But it's only an example that many many many many others.
I don't know I think. We know for what reason. He would go to Cuba to free the Cuban air as it was. The were. The next two questions I will ask Mr. Walsh to ask. Together the first one. What specific action chemical patient Americans take to achieve full human dignity. The next one. What specific political action can the negro take to achieve human dignity. They would appear to be the same person.
I don't want to be. I want out and I try to be malicious and I try to be clever. There's usually the first question especially what's the big action of Caucasian American take to achieve full human dignity. Occurs to me as being a somewhat petty. I mean that if I may be allowed to be room for a moment. Not very rooted. In my view those people who run doctors or friends or I don't know. Anyway the question comes up which I tell my child about sex. And I always think don't you know it
was of oh oh. I don't think if I may be harsh. To any white America. Has the right to Gen.. If you don't know. What actions you take to achieve with us and the second question what specific action to achieve first. Because obviously you don't know what you should do to become a human being. You can imagine what I could do to become a human being with us as part of that such questions can be asked. Of you.
Oh yeah. It was or. My son is seven and a half years old. A negro he thinks white people are greater than we are. What do I say. That's a hard question. And again I don't want to sound harsh. But it would seem to me the question betrays. A certain insecurity in a woman. If your child of seven things right people then we can't get the right people mostly because.
I'm so the only way to answer your question is with you I suspect the way it was. Will. Do you believe that the Negro in America should or must limit his struggle to the nonviolent action to achieve equality. Do I believe that the Negro in America should a Muslim it is. As a streaming of a question of how to tell it like it is for me.
First of all it's a question I can't really answer because I have not answered for myself. I don't know the first thing I have to say. I have. As nonviolent as I have in myself to think of it as an extremely effective strategy. In some cases. I have been myself personally speaking out only for me to be very not to. Fight physically like. A new version of the boy. On the other hand speaking only to myself again I know very well that I really am not and I have and.
I know very well I do try to cure me. I will tell you. That. The reason that I put it that way is because. Not. All American men grow and set it up or if you are mocking them. And when I say that I do not mean in any way what ever they do a man and I love very much. You may be a friend. The margin of the stream a rare person especially this over the nation because he really is a Christian.
Isn't that it is more. The dog than that that is trouble. Because the student. Is Big only of a student at the mo. I'm not like Mark and I don't and I say that when developing it is respect either. But I am trying to say here that this tragedy which is extremely effective is I say something to a in effect in the new place and will probably have to be really evaluated as a strategy. Because and this is great for. MARTIN And Joe or even
we one one life who ever really tried to do anything other than operating villages is just a mark of the moment your mom and children but operating in an almost total that it will appear on the basis of the evidence. That everyone in the country expects Martin and David Abernathy of a few other beleaguered ministers and a handful of children to do a very difficult job corps that one of the reasons for the strategy has to be your example is because of either the government nor the citizenry have shown any suspicion that this is that this is their battle too. It is possibly. The question was posed to me whether that lead to assured. Used to attack.
The question he asked of me or any student student or me. The question is be asked of the nation. Because what happens depends on what you do. It doesn't handle it doesn't depend on law or. I may say right now that we are opposed. But that does not mean there will not be. It is too late to. Be able to negotiate with any the many many many years the technique of Mr. Charles was to ask me for example. You know that I made a bow. I wanted I had a school. Matter going to get it I get them and the tacit price I was paying
for for sure. With that I will run away. With broken lives for ever. But I cannot guarantee that the review of. Whether or not you become violent or remain nonviolent depend entirely on the country. Church. Thank you very much.
- Free and brave / James Baldwin
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- KPFK (Radio station : Los Angeles, Calif.)
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- James Baldwin talks about American history from the Negro view. Recorded by Lorenz Graham at the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles.
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- Baldwin, James, 1924-1987; African Americans--Civil rights--History
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