The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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The fire this time

December 16th, 2017 · No Comments

“Well I know this, and anyone who’s ever tried to live knows this, that what you say about somebody else, anybody else, reveals you. What I think of you as being is dictated by my own necessity, my own psychology, my own fears and desires. I’m not describing you when I talk about you, I’m describing me. Now here in this country we’ve got something called a nigger. It doesn’t, in such terms, I beg you to remark, exist in any other country in the world. We have invented the nigger. I didn’t invent him. White people invented him. I’ve always known—I had to know by the time I was seventeen years old—that what you were describing was not me, and what you were afraid of was not me. It had to be something else. You had invented it, so it had to be something you were afraid of, and you invested me with it. Now, if that’s so, no matter what you’ve done to me, I can say to you this, and I mean it, I know you can’t do any more and I’ve got nothing to lose. And I know and have always known—and really always, that is part of the agony—I’ve always known that I’m not a nigger. But if I am not the nigger, and if it’s true that your invention reveals you, then who is the nigger? I am not the victim here. I know one thing from another. I know I was born, I’m going to suffer, and I’m going to die. The only way you get through life is to know the worst things about it. I know that a person is more important than anything else, anything else. I learned this because I’ve had to learn it. But you still think, I gather, that the nigger is necessary. Well, he’s unnecessary to me, so he must be necessary to you. I’m going to give you your problem back. You’re the nigger, baby, it isn’t me.” – James Baldwin, Take This Hammer

Tags: James Baldwin · Lit & Crit · Politics & Law

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