Why were only our [African American] heroes nonviolent?
My mother and father were always pushing me away from secondhand answers – even the answers they themselves believed. I don’t know that I ever found any satisfactory answers of my own. But every time I ask it, the question is refined.
I was learning that the craft poetry, which really was an intensive version of what my mother had taught me all those years ago – the craft of writing is the art of thinking. Poetry aims for an economy of truth – loose and useless words must be discarded, and I found it is loose and useless words are not separate from the loose and useless thoughts.
Ralph Wiley in response to Saul Bellows quip, “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus.” “Tolstoy is the Tolstoy of the Zulus,” wrote Wylie. “Unless you find a profit in fencing off universal properties of mankind into exclusive tribal ownership.”
I wanted was to write as those black people danced, with control, power, joy, warmth.
None of us were promised to end the fight on our feet, fists raised to the sky. We could not control our enemies’ number, strength, nor weaponry.
Perhaps struggled is all we have because the god of history is an atheist, and nothing about his world is meant to be.
This entire episode took me from fear to a rage. It burned in me then, animates me now, and will likely leave me on fire for the rest of my days.
Most of us are forced to drink our travesties straight and smile about it.
The robbery of time is not measured in life spans but in moments.
My experience in this world has been that the people who believe themselves to be white are obsessed with the politics of personal exoneration. And the word racist, to them, conjures, if not a tobacco – spitting oaf, then something just as fantastic — an orc, troll, or gorgon.
There are no racists in America, or at least none that the people who need to be white know personally.
In 1957, the white residents of Levittown, Pennsylvania, argued for their right to keep their town segregated. “As moral, religious and law-abiding citizens,“ the group wrote, “we feel that we are unprejudiced and undiscriminating In our wish to keep our community a closed community.“
Solzhenitsyn wrote, “to do evil a human being must first of all believe what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well – considered act in conformity with natural law.”