". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Friday, March 7, 2008

Ishmael Reed Speaks

Ishmael Reed is one of my favorite writers as commentator, thinker, journalist or novelist. since sometime when I got mature enough -- sophisticated enough -- to appreciate him; alas that took until sometime late into the 80's, I think, coz he's so subtle and that includes his sense of humor. He's not what anyone could call politically correct, which can be uncomfortable -- but he's pretty equal opportunity that way.

Here is part one of his first interview in 10 years.

He speaks to some of the issues that have been discussed this week around the fraudulent memoir, though being Reed, it's Simon (The Wire) and Price (Clockers and The Wire among other works about gang violence), among others he goes after -- for making money off the poverty and violence of black people. Full disclosure just in case: I deeply admire the work of both Simon and Price. But I'm a woman. The capacity to admire and enjoy opposites, antagonists and contradictions , like multi-tasking, is hard-wired into my system.

Reed's among those who doesn't believe that racism is over in this country. Highly recommended reading for anyone. You / me agreeing with him is not his objective. Making you think is.


Graeme said...

he doesn't like "the wire?" i've only heard good about that show. I've never seen it.

I had itunes on shuffle the other day and gil-scott heron came on with "whitey on the moon." i had forgot how brilliant that is. gotta love that politically incorrect stuff. i like the idea that race is a social concept and "white" is the ruling class not a race.

Foxessa said...

What Reed's criticizing here is that The Wire and other such programming is given the greenlight by HBO and other media - entertainment industries because a white guy(s) are the producers and writers, while equally talented black producers do not get the greenlight to produce programming.

It's directly related to Reed's discussion about the San Francisco Chronicle's observation of Black History Month: the articles were all written by WHITE WRITERS, when SF is filled with brilliant, recognized BLACK WRITERS like himself. This is the most insidious sort of racism.

As familiar as I am with Reed by now, you can tell he watches The Wire too.

For another example all the television programming and the many books that have come out re Katrina: with the exception of Spike Lee's brilliant and terrible When the Levees Broke('terrible' in the Biblical sense), are made by white people, when these documentations show how much more impact this disaster has had upon New Orleans's and the Gulf's black populations.

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

I also wish there was a woman or two among The Wire's writers, producers and directors. Particularly a woman of color.

They are all white males. Every single one of them.

Love, C.