The title comes from the last line in the book:
“If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!“
Blacks do not have enough power to save the nation, but they have enough power to destroy it, and it could wind up coming to that if Whites go on doing nothing.
The best thing about the book is also the worst thing about the book: he avoids easy answers.
So far, Christianity and drugs have kept things from getting completely out of control. As his brother said:
“If Harlem didn’t have so many churches and junkies, there’d be blood flowing in the streets.”
But that is all they have done. The Nation of Islam (NOI) has done more for Blacks, but even that is not the answer. With its talk of “white devils”, it is based on the same lie that got us here in the first place: the lie of race:
“Whoever debases others is debasing himself. That is not a mystical statement but a most realistic one, which is proved by the eyes of any Alabama sheriff – and I would not like to see Negroes ever arrive at so wretched a condition.”
He had dinner with NOI’s leader, the Honourable Elijah Muhammad. That is in the book.
NOI’s ideas about a Black nation or a Black economy are unworkable: even if they could somehow be brought about, it would destroy the US. Many of the things Blacks take for granted would be gone.
Blacks and Whites need each other yet neither respects the other. If Whites see Blacks as the sons of Ham, Blacks see Whites as the sons of Cain. They are locked in a tragic embrace that may never end.
Blacks are “taught really to despise themselves from the moment their eyes open on the world”, and yet:
“White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this – which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never – the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.”
Like the Alabama sheriff, Whites are caught in the lie of race.
“whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves.”
Which means Whites do not know who they are. They need Blacks to help them:
“And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.”
– Abagond, 2015.
- A cross-post from James – from the first part of the book
- James Baldwin
- The curse of Ham
- internalized racism
- How to become White
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