James Baldwin Archive
In Magi’s book-length poem, which revives a cosmopolitan way of being that has gone out favor, textures of physical borders are examined as speech while actual speeches are recovered from books and archives to reveal ways we might begin to comprehend the borders that entrap us.
One cannot simply outgrow or outlive a colonial, racist history. In order for the system to change, we need to stare at it and acknowledge it for what it is.
Of course, the circumstances between Hurricane Harvey and the 1943 Harlem riots are different, but the fault lines exposed by those events are not.
What evolved from an unfinished novel manuscript, through a decades-long struggle with the legacy of Richard Wright, Henry James, and the white Lost Generation, are Baldwin’s 1956 and 1962 books as well as one of his most enduring insights into the struggle to end America’s innocence.
James Baldwin’s text and Steve Schapiro’s photographs undertake similar strategies, revealing systemic racism and its hypocrisy through the telling of deeply personal, narrative moments.
What does it mean to examine the possibilities of deep friendship—love, even—through the lens of a queer interracial reckoning with our silences? To opt for a kind of witness that exposes the violence of intimacies, a form of “domestic” violence that exists between black/brown and white people?
Those of us who experience trauma find it difficult to put our experience into words in the first place. Many of us flounder, sputter, or stay silent, at a loss for how to adequately translate our experience into language.
Regarding writing in exile within one’s own country, James Baldwin might facetiously ask, “Exiled from which America?” He might invoke W.E.B. Du Bois’ double-consciousness and say, “You should know you were only really a part of it insomuch as you could see out of your own eyes and perceive,
Spic, Richie said in the cafeteria, and I don’t remember why. After, as we walked back to our fourth grade classroom, I pushed him down when he turned his back.
Provence is one of these regions, like Bordeaux and the Atlantic seaboard, that have always had a strong connection to Anglophone cultures, starting in the seventeenth century when the court of the House of Stuart went into exile in Avignon.