Wednesday, February 3, 2021

the last book I ever read (Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, excerpt three)

from Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.:

We are told every day not to believe what we see happening all around us or what we feel in the marrow of our bones. We are told, for example, that Trumpism is exceptional, a unique threat to our democracy. This view that Trump, and Trump alone, stresses the fabric of the country lets us off the hook. It feeds into the lie that Baldwin spent the majority of his life trying to convince us to confront. It attempts to explain away as isolated events what today’s cellphone footage exposes as part of our everyday experience. Exceptionalizing Trump deforms our attention (it becomes difficult to see what is happening right in front of us) and secures our self-understanding from anything he might actually represent. If anything, Trump represents a reassertion of the belief that America is, and will always be, a white nation.

Today, our task remains the same, no matter its difficulty or the magnitude of the challenge. Some of us must become poets, but we all must bear witness. Make the suffering real and force the world to pay attention to it, and not place that suffering all at the feet of Donald Trump, but understand it as the inevitable outcome in a country that continues to lie to itself.

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