One of this week’s best new releases is:
The Charleston Syallbus:
Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence
Chad Williams, Kidada Williams, Keisha Blaine, Eds.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
This book captures a lengthy Twitter conversation, in the wake of the Charleston shootings, about essential readings on racism and racial violence.
Included below are some of the readings that are excerpted in this new book. The book is divided into six sections and we offer at least one reading from each section.
Section 4: Jim Crow, Racial Politics and Global White Supremacy
The Souls of White Folk
High in the tower, where I sit above the loud complaining of the human
sea, I know many souls that toss and whirl and pass, but none there are
that intrigue me more than the Souls of White Folk.
Of them I am singularly clairvoyant. I see in and through them. I view
them from unusual points of vantage. Not as a foreigner do I come, for I
am native, not foreign, bone of their thought and flesh of their
language. Mine is not the knowledge of the traveler or the colonial
composite of dear memories, words and wonder. Nor yet is my knowledge
that which servants have of masters, or mass of class, or capitalist of
artisan. Rather I see these souls undressed and from the back and side.
I see the working of their entrails. I know their thoughts and they know
that I know. This knowledge makes them now embarrassed, now furious.
They deny my right to live and be and call me misbirth! My word is to
them mere bitterness and my soul, pessimism. And yet as they preach and
strut and shout and threaten, crouching as they clutch at rags of facts
and fancies to hide their nakedness, they go twisting, flying by my
tired eyes and I see them ever stripped,–ugly, human.
The discovery of personal whiteness among the world’s peoples is a very
modern thing,–a nineteenth and twentieth century matter, indeed. The
ancient world would have laughed at such a distinction. The Middle Age
regarded skin color with mild curiosity; and even up into the eighteenth
century we were hammering our national manikins into one, great,
Universal Man, with fine frenzy which ignored color and race even more
than birth. Today we have changed all that, and the world in a sudden,
emotional conversion has discovered that it is white and by that token,
This assumption that of all the hues of God whiteness alone is
inherently and obviously better than brownness or tan leads to curious
acts; even the sweeter souls of the dominant world as they discourse
with me on weather, weal, and woe are continually playing above their
actual words an obligato of tune and tone, saying:
“My poor, un-white thing! Weep not nor rage. I know, too well, that the
curse of God lies heavy on you. Why? That is not for me to say, but be
brave! Do your work in your lowly sphere, praying the good Lord that
into heaven above, where all is love, you may, one day, be born–white!”
I do not laugh. I am quite straight-faced as I ask soberly:
“But what on earth is whiteness that one should so desire it?” Then
always, somehow, some way, silently but clearly, I am given to
understand that whiteness is the ownership of the earth forever and
READ THE FULL ESSAY
on Project Gutenberg…
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