“This is a narrative of what it was like for those of us born in the thirties. Our parents had come from Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and many other southern states where the whites were perverse and inhuman in their treatment of blacks. But mostly they came from Mississippi. They came to the big cities armed only with glorious fantasies about a new and better world, hoping to find the dignity that had been denied them, hoping to find the self-respect that had been cut out of them. They came north, and we were the children born in the place they had escaped to—Chicago.”
I leave it to social historians to draw comparisons with other identity movements, but it can be hard to bridge the gap between accepting fatness in others and accepting it in yourself—and waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.
It is strange; I am more scared after speaking than before. My stomach twists tighter as thoughts whirl. Will they revoke my scholarship for speaking out? Will I be targeted? Will I keep my job? My leadership position?
Is it activism yet?
What would it feel like to be quarantined with a parent who was stressed to the breaking point, symptoms flaring, but could not seek help, either because illness had them paranoid or because they were afraid they would lose custody of the one reason they stayed alive?
Maybe it was being mistaken for that other young man that fixed the incident in my mind for 35 years. Maybe it was the helplessness of an army’s search at sea, on rivers, and in the jungle. Maybe I am predisposed to worry over everything turning away in time, calmly.
When they were put up in the 1960s, the Kirwan-Blanding Towers were a confident bet on the future of the University of Kentucky and of the country and the world. Now, as they disappear, no one can be sure of what the future holds for American higher education, for America as a whole, or for the planet.
Make no mistake, Octavia E. Butler was among the greatest American authors of the twentieth century. The intervening years have seen Butler’s work reclaimed by literary critics, scholars, and the reading public at large, but the fact remains: She was always terrific, even when too few people affirmed this judgment in the public square.
How can remedies for Blacks, because of their unique subjugation, be colorblind and still work? Will they not be simply co-opted by the White majority? To this, the Black conservative responds that Blacks let their race over-determine their views and their fate while intensifying their sense of alienation, failing to understand that they are Americans too and benefit from policies that are good for Americans on the whole.
I was nine months old when my father died. After his death, my mother remained a widow until December 29, 1979, when she married Cooper, who, by virtue of this fact, became my step-father, although I was twenty-seven at the time and hardly in need of a new parent. But Cooper was not new to me.
The plague that devours Oran is less a proxy for a manifestly odious occupying force than it is emblematic of the contradictions inherent in democracy, in which the limits of liberal universalism and equality collide against the violent reality of state power.