AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

James Baldwin

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Thursday, June 12th, 2014

James Baldwin at 90, Part 4: The Brilliance of Children, The Duty of Citizens

At the outset of the essay, I asked “What changes, what constants and what chimeras made the United States the place that elects a black President?” And, “What does black president actually mean?” (You can find the first three parts of this essay here.)

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

James Baldwin at 90, Part 3: Black Style in an Age of Sights for the Speechless

In Take This Hammer, Baldwin’s guide, Orville Luster, positions him in San Francisco’s Lower Fillmore District across the street from the Booker T. Washington Hotel. As they approach the hotel on Fillmore Street, Luster says, “now, off...

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

James Baldwin at 90, Part 2: Toward a Writing “Immune to Bullshit”

In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin frames the crux of his consideration of cultural and personal awareness: “It is the responsibility of free men to trust and to celebrate what is constant—birth, struggle, and death are...

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

James Baldwin at 90: Part 1 “Not the Country We’re Sitting in Now”

Everyone on the one hand is fundamentally capable of paying his dues. But no one pays their dues willingly. . . As long as you think there’s some way to get through life without paying your dues,...

Friday, March 14th, 2014

James Baldwin’s #WhiteHistoryWeek: “As long as you think you’re white, you’re irrelevant”

Between the late-1940s and the mid-1980s, in novels, essays, films, plays and poems, James Baldwin (1924-1987) engaged the complexities of race and the human condition in aggressive and always-shifting terms. After countless, often surprising, permutations, near the...

Monday, January 20th, 2014

France is no longer needed

Pratt Institute professor Ellery Washington writing in The New York Times: In the spring of 1984, during an interview for The Paris Review, a nearly 60-year-old Baldwin was asked why he had chosen to live in France,...

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Chinua Achebe: A Poet of Global Encounters

The first time I met Chinua Achebe I had just started teaching at Bard College, where I had been hired as Director of Africana Studies. I saw Chinua one evening at a campus event and nervously approached...

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Redefining “Blackness”: An interview with Toyin Odutola

The richly layered portraits of Nigerian-American artist Toyin Odutola have been on the Africa is a Country radar for quite some time. Painstakingly created with marker and ballpoint pen, Toyin’s drawings have been making waves in the...

Friday, June 10th, 2011

The Global Imagination of James Baldwin

In February this year a first-rate group of scholars gathered in New York City to debate the legacy of the twentieth century American writer and critic, James Baldwin (1924-1987). I missed the proceedings, titled “James Baldwin’s Global...

Friday, December 17th, 2010

The Paris Review on The Art of Fiction

The “Paris Review” has one of the best collections of interviews with authors–and A to Z list, all available online . Among the dozens and dozens of mostly white writers featured, I spotted only five black writers–the...

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Sunday Ephemera No.7

Rare clip of James Baldwin debating William Buckley on “The American Dream is at the Expense of the American Negro” at Cambridge University in 1965. (Among other things, Baldwin draws parallels between South Africa, Algeria and the...