". . . 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

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Another of My Favorite Writers, Zora Neale Hurston

A biography? autobiography? of Zora Neale Hurston, Jump to the Sun, tonight on PBS's "American Masters" documentary series.

Narrated by S. Epatha Merkerson.

You can find more information about the documentary here.

[ I invariably point out that getting hold of white men has always been easy. I don't need any help to do that. I only wish that I could get everything else so easily as I can get white men. I am utterly indifferent to the joy of other Negroes who feel that a marriage across the line is compensation for all things, even conscience. The South must laugh and gloat at the spectacle and say "I told you so! That is a black person's highest dream." If a white man or woman marries a Negro for love that is all right with me, but a Negro who considers himself or herself paid off and honored by it is a bit too much for me to take. So I shall probably never become a "liberal." Neither shall I ever let myself be persuaded to have my mind made up for me by a political job. I mean to live and die by my own mind. If that is cowardly, then I am a coward. When you come to analyze it, Countee, some of the stuff that has passed as courage among Negro "leaders" is nauseating. Oh, yes, they are right there with the stock phrases, which the white people are used to and expect, and pay no attention to anymore. They are rather disappointed if you do not use them. But if you suggest something real just watch them back off from it. I know that the Anglo-Saxon mentality is one of violence. Violence is his religion. He has gained everything he has by it, and respects nothing else. When I suggest to our "leaders" that the white man is not going to surrender for mere words what he has fought and died for, and that if we want anything substantial we must speak with the same weapons, immediately they object that I am not practical. ]

One of the many things I love about Hurston (along with her marvelous way with language) is how she really does say what she thinks (though not always, depending on who she is talking / writing to).

What I particularly like about this letter extract is it's another piece of the evidence that contradicts that ugly stupid cliché and canard that POC are so attracted to white people. I just hate that cliché in fiction and movies and drama (poor Pocohontas has too much to answer for -- so aided and abetted by Kipling and Kim) that the captor's daughter always falls in love with our white, blue-eyed, blonde haired hero and helps him escape, blow up the castle, and always, always dies to save his life. In reality she'd find him so disgustingly unattractive she'd wouldn't dirty her shoe by going near him.

There is also a new book, Slavery by Another Name, by Douglas A. Blackmon is a deeply researched history of the chilling, tormented condition of so many black people post the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, held in slavery up through the 1950's. As would be expected, the largest number of these illegal slaves were in states like Alabama. Shoot, you can see this going on today, still, in Louisiana.

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