James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley (1965)

“Historic debate between James Baldwin v. William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge University on the question: “Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?” – The Riverbends Channel

James Baldwin was one of the most brilliant minds of our time. He was unapologetic about his blackness and his sexuality. Rightfully so, as there was nothing he could (or should) have done to change either.

I’ve been thinking about writing a piece on racism for quite a while now. But so much has already been said on the subject by people far better qualified than myself. One of whom is the incredibly brilliant James Baldwin.

Note: This video runs about an hour. It’s worth your attention, if for no other reason than to get a glimpse of American history through the eyes of non-US citizens. So if you don’t have the time to watch it now please bookmark it and save it for a future time when you can.

Thanks.

A Word About Allies.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, I thought I’d say a few words about allies.

According to Dictionary.com, an Ally isa person who associates or cooperates with another; a supporter.”

I can only speak from my own life experience. I am a gay, while male. That is the perspective from which I see the world. When it comes to *people of color, the best I can do is empathize and remember that it’s not always about me.

❇When I say “People of Color”, I’m referring to all ethnic and/or non-white people. Essentially, the majority of people on the planet.

As a gay man, I can easily empathize with any oppressed persons. There are laws prohibiting my very existence. Anti-gay violence is everywhere. It would be easy to compare it to the horrors inflicted upon African American families throughout the history of this great, yet flawed, country of ours. But I have the luxury of never having had my family torn apart and sold as chattel. No one in my family ever risked their lives just to sit at a lunch counter. No one in my family was strung up in a tree and left to die because (s)he misspoke. None of my family was burned out of their home because they moved into a neighborhood with better schools.

Allies don’t always get it right.

The job of an ally is to support and give voice to those whose voice cannot be heard. Unfortunately, we sometimes get so caught up in our own BS that we forget to step aside and give up the spotlight.

I’ve been fortunate to have had good friends and lovers who have had the patience and fortitude to put up with my BS, and show me when and where I was wrong. I didn’t always like it. At times I was downright insulted. How dare they say I’m just as racist as…? Live and learn, right?

The point I’m trying to make is this.

When you hear black folks expressing displeasure about white folks, for any reason, remember it’s not necessarily about you. It could be, but chances are they’re trying to tell you something. All you have to do is shut up and listen.

It’s not your job to say anything. Just listen.