� Envoy | Main | Coma �

February 24, 2005

The End Of My Blackness: 1997

(from the archives)

every four years or so, i pierce a barrier and find that i am no longer the black man i was that many years ago. the existential issues that i found most pressing then, at the moment of clarity, have been resolved.

the good side is that this end has always signalled a demonstrative progress. secondly, i have always discovered a new way of being black that fits me more comfortably. the bad side is that it always presents a new set of problems, and i often grow weary of the 'black' discussions i have had over the previous period.

i have not yet reached the end of my current period, but it's coming shortly. it is signalled by my imminent return to los angeles, the publication of 'critical white studies' shown in the link, the denoument of 209, the waning of bandwidth in webchat in my favorite racial fora, the relative completion of 'boohabs factotum', and my periodic readings of the norton anthology of african american literature.

on that last note, i have found myself utterly stymied by the phraseology and syntax of the brer rabbit stories. written in the o.g. dialect, it is almost as foreign to me as the faerie queen and the canterbury tales. i try to read it to my (light skin, good haired) children, and i feel foolish. i call them the 'old time stories', and try my best uncle remus accent. we all end up confused, me as i stumble over the text trying to make sense of the original meaning, and translating it into pre-school english, they as they try to reconcile this different storytime voice. at least it's about a rabbit, sorta.

along with the compilation by delgado & stefanic, i recently purchased massey and denton's 'american apartheid'. i gather it will give me all the beef behind my own 'originated' theory which i based on a snippet here and there. i have been arguing for the past 5 black years that the single most unifying thing black people have is geography, and that essentially all black dysfunction stems from the ills of living in ghettoes - that our human and civil rights battles are mostly won and what we need most is to actually move to the level playing field. that without white boogie men in our heads, triumph is inevitable, as long as we are living next door to the (white) competition. unfortunately 80% of us ain't residentially integrated, and so we are mired in unique battles that outsiders do not comprehend. massey and denton have the specs.

the last political sea changes of any note were the stacking of the supreme court by reagan, and before that the failure of the rainbow coalition. 209 by comparison is actually less severe, but more indicative of the kind of dismissal 'we' can expect in the future. it portends, in my view, the death of subtle politics, and the political meaninglessness of black middle class struggles in the eyes of the political majority. the black part of me which was dedicated to being engaged as a political progressive is ended. i am resigned to my own elitist understanding - let others negotiate. combined with my reading of nathan glazer's latest, and the relative silence greeting his well reasoned refutation of his earlier rejection of affirmative action, i will be content to be even more hardnosed. the public is wrong, the public be damned.

all this leaves some question as to the fate of my website, which never actually got the attention i thought it deserved. maybe it was the lower case, but i'm not certain that i have the will to continue building 'the race man's home companion'. its biggest dilemma, the question of whiteness, has be adequately answered. i know where self-identified whitefolks are coming from, for the most part, and i know how far they have to come in order to make the kind of political impact the home companion sought to aid. i think ignatiev is appropriately radical and anything short of that will be ineffective (as is glazer). as for the rest of the factotum - well, now it's just something to do.

at this end, i am walking through bookstores and record shops not quite sure what i want to buy. i'm sick of my previous tastes. despite the fact that i am who i am - irrevocably a gut-level cultural nationalist who grew up in the roughest black neighborhood that still could be called lower middle class - i don't care about what all of that has meant thus far.

Posted by mbowen at February 24, 2005 09:05 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


"the race man's home companion"
heh! good one.

the integration will all come in due time, Cobb. it is inevitable. to tweak jay-z, you got to git. that. chip. off your shoulder.

go back to your old hood, the ol' lower case, and mentor someone.

Posted by: memer at February 24, 2005 03:55 PM

Ha! There's only one way to lift chips, and that's with cash.

Posted by: Cobb at February 24, 2005 04:24 PM