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August 04, 2005

Writin' is Fightin': Cobb Edition

"All you are ever told in this country about being black is that it is a terrible, terrible thing to be. Now, in order to survive this, you have to really dig down into yourself and re-create yourself, really, according to no image which yet exists in America. You have to impose, in fact - this may sound very strange - you have to decide who you are, and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you."
--James Baldwin

Somebody called the 'Dismal Scientist' (certainly not the first) writes below my cartoon:

As a so-called "Negro" myself, I must say that I find you almost compelling as a blogger. Surely, you believe in "Good" and "Evil"--and therein lies the problem. You would be absolutely compelling if you abandoned "positions". You see, this world is all there is. It is neither Good or Evil, Left or Right--Democrat or Republican.

The world is simply what it is. Now, we men have the prerogrative to impose an interpretation on it--think of those who actually believe God exiss--and some stories are indeed more compelling than others.

Hang in there my Negro Blogger---I am pulling for you.

My immediate reaction is this:

I am compelled, like Celie in 'The Color Purple', to increase my literacy and name the things I see with my own eyes. I don't make excuses for calling them as I see them, and of course I am not beyond having a little fun.

This blog has its mission and I hope will stand as some sort of a testament to this short period in American History. Sooner or later, people are going to look at America of 2005 and say 'good' or 'evil'. Well that's just hindsight and half memory. I'm here. I'm now. I'm watching and I'm naming.

Nobody gets the privilege of putting words in my mouth retrospectively. Nobody gets to say what 'Negroes' of the blogosphere were doing way back in 2005 without checking in here. Nobody gets to say 'black people were on the ass-end of the digital divide througout history'. I was emailing in 1984 at Xerox back in the days they made millions selling typewriters. I was at the Well, Cafe Utne, the Drum and everywhere else, and I was not quiet in the corner.

I'm going to continue being a loudmouth in various ways because I'm a writer - perception and articulation. That's what my writing life is all about, from this black man's perspective. All of which is to say is that I have a position in this world and I dictate what that position is. I don't care who believes I have a right to or not. If I say I'm Right and Republican, that's what I am. If I say I am humble and human, then I'm that too.

The voice persists. Deal with it.

But that is a writer's answer and it is not the only answer I have. Out of the blue as I posted the quote, keeping in very clear focus the writer's goodwill towards me, it occurred to me that the writer might very well be Roland Fryer. It's just a hunch and a wild guess based on the interview I saw a few weeks back with the head Freakonomist on the Charlie Rose show. And you know what? I agree. From an economic point of view, there is no good or evil, democrat or republican. People vote with their choices every day. And it is only when you are completely clear about that, that you can see what people do without bias.

I acknowledge the reality of the world and people's choices. I am not in the business of political struggle as a moralist, rather as someone exercising my choice to be a willing and thoughtful participant in the mediating forces of democracy. I like being a citizen in a country under civilian rule. I am not doing the Lucifer Jones thing here - I am assessing and abetting the opportunity for the expansion of African American political power and responsibility in the best tradition of the Black Nationalist movement. (Although now that I think about it, it's probably fair to say that Thabo Mbeki has been something of a disappointment.)

Whether or not my mystery friend is Fryer, I think I understand the import of his point. It is my full intent to be reality based. I am not seeing things as I wish they were. And I hope that anyone with the patience would set me straight when I contradict myself in that or any regard. Nobody has time for hypocrites or mice.

Posted by mbowen at August 4, 2005 12:38 AM

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Roland Fryer I am not...but thanks for the compliment. Some day, sooner or later, Economist Fryer will indeed become a splendid Negro Economist and Public Intellectual.

Howard, like you Cobb, Fryer is simply "Human...All Too Human". You see, to reduce the Negro to empirical regularities (e.g, rates of human capital investment, test scores,
incidence of out-of-wedlock births), is to believe in beliefs--that man is subject to measurement and regularities....ABSURD!! What is man? Mere measurement and outcome? You assess my condition based on the number of chickens in my pot? My income? Gee Whiz...God really is Dead afterall. Man, especially the Negro is now defined by what we can empirically measure and benchmark against his peer--the Blonde Beast?

Cobb.....what do you believe? Do you appeal to belief? I will enjoy your indulgences..afterall, you may be on to something. So, keep on Blogging..Ecce Negro........you have my encouragement..but in the world where God is Dead---you must be more compelling..or at least
give it a shot.


Posted by: dismalscientist [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 4, 2005 08:59 AM

Xerox Email...Yikes. Xerox virtually invented networking, yet let others make the fortune.

But that BlackNetwork was ahead of it's time.

Posted by: brotherbrown [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 4, 2005 03:13 PM

I believe that knowledge is created and destroyed. So I give props to religion as a pedagogy. What religion becomes in the shrinking space of the advance of (useful?) knowledge is a language of the spirit that Dr. Phil alone cannot provide. But this is fodder for a much larger post and I don't have the time right now.

God isn't dead. God is in the woods where we fear to tread.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 4, 2005 06:08 PM