Black People : What would America have been without the Negro? by Ralph Ellison

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by skuderjaymes, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. skuderjaymes

    skuderjaymes Contextualizer Synthesizer MEMBER

    Nov 2, 2009
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    independent thoughtist thinker, context linker
    theory to application to discussion to percussion
    April 6, 1970,

    What would America have been without the Negro? The question, however farfetched, periodically rises to the surface of the American imagination. For a discussion of the mystery and meaning of that question, TIME turned to Black Novelist Ralph Ellison, author of The Invisible Man and Shadow and Act.

    THE fantasy of an America free of blacks is at least as old as the dream of creating a truly democratic society. While we are aware that there is something inescapably tragic about the cost of achieving our democratic ideals, we keep such tragic awareness segregated to the rear of our minds. We allow it to come to the fore only during moments of great national crisis.

    On the other hand, there is something so embarrassingly absurd about the notion of purging the nation of blacks that it seems hardly a product of thought at all. It is more like a primitive reflex, a throwback to the dim past of tribal experience, which we rationalize and try to make respectable by dressing it up in the gaudy and highly questionable trappings of what we call the "concept of race." Yet, despite its absurdity, the fantasy of a blackless America continues to turn up. It is a fantasy born not merely of racism but of petulance, of exasperation, of moral fatigue. It is like a boil bursting forth from impurities in the bloodstream of democracy.

    In its benign manifestations, it can be outrageously comic—as in the picaresque adventures of Percival Brownlee who appears in William Faulkner's story The Bear. Exasperating to his white masters because his aspirations and talents are for preaching and conducting choirs rather than for farming, Brownlee is "freed" after much resistance and ends up as the prosperous proprietor of a New Orleans brothel. In Faulkner's hands, the uncomprehending drive of Brownlee's owners to "get shut" of him is comically instructive. Indeed, the story resonates certain abiding, indeed tragic themes of American history with which it is interwoven, and which are causing great turbulence in the social atmosphere today. I refer to the exasperation and bemusement of the white American with the black, the black American's ceaseless (and swiftly accelerating) struggle to escape the misconceptions of whites, and the continual confusing of the black American's racial background with his individual culture. Most of all, I refer to the recurring fantasy of solving one basic problem of American democracy by getting "shut" of the blacks through various wishful schemes that would banish them from the nation's bloodstream, from its social structure, and from its conscience and historical consciousness.

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    What would America have been without the Negro? The question, however farfetched, periodically rises to the surface of the American imagination. For a discussion of the mystery and meaning of that...
  2. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

    Feb 28, 2009
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    Robert C. Weaver, "The Negro as an American"
    June 13, 1963

    (Robert C. Weaver served as the nation's first black cabinet member: Johnson's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.)

    When the average well-informed and well-intentioned white American discusses the issue of race with his negro counterpart there are many areas of agreement. There are also certain significant areas of disagreement.

    Negro Americans usually feel that whites exaggerate progress; while whites frequently feel that negroes minimize gains. Then there are differences relative to the responsibility of negro leadership. It is in these areas of dispute that some of the most subtle and revealing aspects of negro-white relationships reside. And it is to the subtle and less obvious aspects of this problem that I wish to direct my remarks.

    Most middle-class white Americans frequently ask, "Why do negroes push so? They have made phenomenal progress in 100 years of freedom, so why don't their leaders do something about the crime rate and illegitimacy?" To them I would reply that when negroes press for full equality now they are behaving as all other Americans would under similar circumstances. Every American has the right to be treated as a human being and striving for human dignity is a national characteristic. Also, there is nothing inconsistent in such action and realistic self-appraisal. Indeed, as I shall develop, self-help programs among non-whites, if they are to be effective, must go hand-in-glove with the opening of new opportunities.

    Negroes who are constantly confronted or threatened by discrimination and inequality articulate a sense of outrage. Many react with hostility, sometimes translating their feelings into overt anti-social actions. In parts of the negro community a separate culture with deviant values develops. To the members of this subculture I would observe that ours is a middle-class society and those who fail to evidence most of its values and behavior are headed toward difficulties. But I am reminded that the rewards for those who do are often minimal, providing insufficient inducement for large numbers to emulate them.

    Until the second decade of the twentieth century, it was traditional to compare the then current position of negroes with that of a decade or several decades ago. The depression revealed the basic marginal economic status of colored Americans and repudiated this concept of progress. By the early 1930's negroes became concerned about their relative position in the nation.

    Of course, there are those who observe that the average income, the incidence of home ownership, the rate of acquisition of automobiles, and the like, among negroes in the United States are higher than in some so-called advanced nations. Such comparisons mean little. Incomes are significant only in relation to the cost of living, and the other attainments and acquisitions are significant for comparative purposes only when used to reflect the negro's relative position in the world. The negro here--as he has so frequently and eloquently demonstrated--is an American. And his status, no less than his aspirations, can be measured meaningfully only in terms of American standards.....

    Robert C. Weaver, "The Negro as an American" | June 13, 1963 | AMDOCS: Documents for the Study of American History
  3. wetac0s

    wetac0s Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Dec 5, 2009
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    Without the Negro, there'd be no one to do the dirty work for the europeans. Cotton is the industry that developed America in the first place. Not to mention all the inventions that Blacks created and which White America have taken credit for.

    Just like Blacks killing Arabs in the wars, Mexicans cleaning houses, and Asians working in factories....All the dirty work is done by someone else.