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Not that I give a shit. Nobody can become a cynic like an idealist, you know? Not in mine, and I live in Michigan, where racism is fucking everywhere. Here's a great place to start. A book that's sick of bullshit for people who are sick of bullshit. View 1 comment. Oct 20, Daniel Chaikin rated it it was amazing. By the beaded hippie era has faded, and their failure reflects in other American failures.
To some extend Baldwin is continuing his usual themes—attacks on the the lunacy of American conservatives, the American south, the inauthenticity of American liberals his main readers? Add Hollywood. But he had met, spoken with, debated with all these lost heroes of the Civil Right era and sees it all as a failure and as both a national and personal loss.
America is still sick and in denial. Trump would not surprise him. Glad to have read it. Oct 30, Mehrsa rated it it was amazing. The part that stood out most to me in this reading is the way he contrasts the Black experience with that of the Algerians in France. This one may be one of my favorites--especially towards the end where he talks about the deaths of King, Malcolm, and Medgar Evers and the imprisonment of Huey Newton. He deals with all of these men with such insight and reverence. He says his job is not to be a revolutionary, but to be a witness and he's such an astute and poignant witness.
This book is also his most pessimistic. How could you not be as a black man watching your heroes die one by one? Nov 15, Malik Newton rated it really liked it Shelves: the-city-the-ghetto , biographies-and-histories-of-people , writers-and-prose , culture-and-criticism.
Baldwin gives me life. Whenever things around me become too set in their ways, as though they'd stay like this forever--life, work, news, politics, other current events, the same old charades--I return to James Baldwin for perspective and to rediscover my tenuous link to this world and the people around me. I get like that sometimes, detached and indifferent, when all I can see is a never ending cycle of nonsense and people being complacent when they should be angry , and it looks like there's nothing anyone can do t Whenever things around me become too set in their ways, as though they'd stay like this forever--life, work, news, politics, other current events, the same old charades--I return to James Baldwin for perspective and to rediscover my tenuous link to this world and the people around me.
I get like that sometimes, detached and indifferent, when all I can see is a never ending cycle of nonsense and people being complacent when they should be angry , and it looks like there's nothing anyone can do to break the repetitive pattern. So I turn to James Baldwin and soak in his immortal words.
He wrote earnestly and honestly, and there's pain but there's also a glimmer of hope. And that's what I hang onto. Some of the things written during those years, justifying, for example, the execution of the Rosenbergs, or the crucifixion of Alger Hiss and the beatification of Whittaker Chambers taught me something about the irresponsibility and cowardice of the liberal community which I will never forget. Their performance, then, yet more than the combination of ignorance and arrogance with which this community has always protected itself against the deepest implications of black suffering, persuaded me that brilliance without passion is nothing more than sterility.
It must be remembered, after all, that I did not begin meeting these people at the point that they began to meet me: I had been delivering their packages and emptying their garbage and taking their tips for years. And what I watched them do to each other during the McCarthy era was, in some ways, worse than anything they had ever done to me, for I, at least, had never been mad enough to depend on their devotion.
It seemed very clear to me that they were lying about their motives and were being blackmailed by their guilt; were, in fact, at bottom, nothing more than the respectable issue of various immigrants, struggling to hold on to what they had acquired. It abruptly reduces the white enemy to a contest merely physical, which he can win only physically.
Feb 13, leynes rated it it was ok Shelves: black-writers. Ugh, no, I hate to say it but this one really didn't do it for me. That's a 1. Baldwin's take on the memoir, I've had my gripes with Baldwin in the past notably the evasive nature of his first essay collection Notes of a Native Son but learned to love him through his more bold and angry works Ugh, no, I hate to say it but this one really didn't do it for me.
I've had my gripes with Baldwin in the past notably the evasive nature of his first essay collection Notes of a Native Son but learned to love him through his more bold and angry works notably The Fire Next Time and Dark Days and his capability to write from his heart and write for his people If Beale Street Could Talk. No Name in the Street , unfortunately, didn't fall into any of those categories, since it was extremely repetitive and didn't serve any point whatsoever.
Getting into the book, I was expecting to read a memoir, as the book was marketed as such, and whilst we did get snippets of Baldwin's time in Paris and some personal anecdotes about his relationship to famous Civil Rights leaders, No Name in the Street cannot be called a memoir. It's more of a political and analytical collection of two essays.
And that was darn disappointing. I'm incredibly interested in Baldwin as a person, because I cannot quite seem to get a grasp of him by just watching his interviews, but he really didn't deliver on that front. His time in Paris, which he practically "fled" to because he couldn't stand living in the United States any longer, is reduced to his analysis of the Algerian War and the Parisian's reaction to it.
He brings Camus, Franco and McCarthyism into the mix, and left me utterly confused. This is not what I signed up for. This is not what I'm interested in Baldwin writes in an incredibly rhetorical and cold manner, that it's hard to get a hold of his emotion and what he might have felt at the time.
His idealogical discourse is way too abstract and messy to impress me. King, Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver shaped it. Interspersed with this is the story of a personal friend and former bodyguard who was accused of murder. I wish Baldwin could've made me care about anything he wrote in that section but alas! Surprisingly, I found Baldwin to come across as quite vain sue me!
I don't care that you knew this people, Jimmy, I wanna know what you did with them, what you talked about, what they meant to you. The fact alone that you met them a couple of times is nothing to me. I don't care. I also don't care that you could afford to travel the world and see all of those cool places in Europe, if you don't elaborate on what you did there, like???? I am so confused. Why bother writing that down if you have nothing else to add than the mere fact that you've been to these places.
I get that Baldwin explored the theme of his alienation from "his people", due to his wealth and his inability to relate to his old Harlem friends, but even those passages where written with such a holier-than-thou, it just made me made. I know I'm coming across like a toddler throwing a tamper tantrum but bear with me on this one. I really wanted to enjoy No Name in the Street , I thought it would provide an interesting look into Baldwin's life and getting a first-hand account of the 50s and 60s is always invaluable, however, not if it's done in such a lacklustre way.
The only time Baldwin could even remotely make me care and actually providing a perspective that was new and wasn't just a warm-up of his earlier essays was the time he characterised Malcolm X: "Malcolm X," he says, "was not a racist, not even when he thought he was. His intelligence was more complex than that. What made him unfamiliar and dangerous was not his hatred for white people but his love for blacks, his apprehension of the horror of the black condition, and the reasons for it, and his determination to work on their hearts and minds so that they would be enabled to see their condition and change it themselves.
I appreciate Baldwin for what he has done. His passion, honesty and persuasiveness did much to free the impasse in racial discourse and helped create what now seems the fleeting illusion that nonblack Americans could actually empathize with Blacks in America and seriously confront the racial problem.
Along with Martin Luther King Jr. But none of his intensity or brilliance can be found in No Name in the Street. Sep 05, B. For carts that deliver bread to all mankind, without any moral foundations for their action, may quite cold-bloodedly exclude a considerable part of mankind from enjoying what they deliver, as has already happened One realizes that what is called civilization lives first of all in the mind, has the mind above all its province, and that the civilization, or its rudiment " 'I, the vile Lebedev, do not believe in the carts that deliver bread to mankind!
One realizes that what is called civilization lives first of all in the mind, has the mind above all its province, and that the civilization, or its rudiments, can continue to live long after its externals have vanished--they can never entirely vanish from the mind.
It was written after the wave of riots and assassinations that closed out the s and in the middle of the violent suppression of the Black Panther Party and the Attica Prison Uprising. James Baldwin looked upon the world at this time and had death-shivers. Of all of the books of essays written by Baldwin, No Name in the Street is the most relevant for today.
As is usually the case, Baldwin tells us his life story, but this time he includes details that we rarely hear or read by him. We learn a lot about his life in New York City between leaving his parents' house and leaving the United States. But more importantly, we are given full details of his initial time in Paris. We were already told a little of his impression of the city in Notes of a Native Son , but this picks-up where that book left off and gives a fuller picture of the white French and the brown Algerians.
Baldwin's life in poverty living with the Algerians taught him much; he learned that racism could change very completely depending on the country and the needs and exploitation that exist. While black people were at the bottom of the ladder in America, it was North Africans--more than the sub-Saharan Africans--who are at the bottom of the ladder in France.
Hearing him talk at how not only the generally increase in racism against Algerians, but the Latin American-esque colorism that increased against all people with beige skin white French and Italian people from the Mediterranean were now under threat from the police for "looking too Arab" and many unfortunate Europeans were disappeared in those years for the crime of having a tan.
But of the Algerian War, he devotes a section to criticizing the pro-colonial position of Albert Camus. Baldwin states: " I was struck by the fact that, for Camus, European humanism appeared to expire at European gates: so that Camus, who was dedicated to liberty, in the case of Europeans, could only speak of 'justice' when it came to Algerians No surprises here.
They are unable to believe this, because they cannot face what this fact says about themselves and this country. And the effect of this massive and hostile incomprehension is to increase the danger in which all black people live here, especially the young.
I had already read his thoughts on the McCarthy-era in The Devil Finds Work , but he goes into more detail on what specifically shocked him--the cowardice of white liberals to stand-up for people being persecuted. On the contrary, they were selling each other out in order to seem more patriotic in the eyes of the government.
This made Baldwin not regret his decision to be in Paris and is why he did not return state-side until the Civil Rights Movement when the integration of Little Rock High School was happening. All three men worked for different organizations though Evers and MLK were more ideologically closer and Baldwin never formally joined any of them though he did informally attach himself to King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference despite Baldwin being neither Southern or Christian--and he was not the only one , but became friends with all three men.
He learned a lot from interacting with them and this made their deaths all the more painful. I was very much impressed at how he compared Malcolm X to Joan of Arc--and how he describes his last interactions with MLK while on a doomed-mission to write a film adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X ; he describes his time being took through the Deep South by Medgar Evers and being groped by an anonymous white Southern politician.
He also gives very good profiles on the leadership of the Black Panther Party including Huey Newton who he liked and Eldridge Cleaver who he did not like--justifiably. We also see him giving due to the actor Marlon Brando who was the underrated hero of this book.
One of the few figures of the s black or white that had no problems transitioning from the Civil Rights-era to the Black Power-era while most people were recovering from the assassination of MLK, Brando was in Oakland eulogizing and helping to bury Bobby Hutton--the first Black Panther to be assassinated by the police.
Besides the assassinations, another sub-plot in this book is the story of Tony Maynard. Maynard was Baldwin's bodyguard during the early Civil Rights years, but gets framed for a crime he did not commit and endures police brutality in both German and American jails he was at Attica during the Uprising. It became apparent to me that Maynard's story served as the template of the novel Baldwin was writing during this time: If Beale Street Could Talk.
Maynard's story is the most contemporary of the bunch as many of the issues Baldwin brings up about mass-incarceration are still relevant--in-fact they're worse! It is a wonder that this book is not more popular, especially in a world where the demand for people like Ta-Nehisi Coates is so high.
Whoever is part of whatever civilization helplessly loves some aspect of it, and some of the people in it. A person does not lightly elect to oppose his society. One would much rather be at home among one's compatriots than be mocked and detested by them. And there is a level on which the mockery of the people, even their hatred, is moving because it is so blind: it is terrible to watch people cling to their captivity and insist on their own destruction.
I think black people have always felt this about America, and Americans, and have always seen, spinning above the thoughtless American head, the shape of the wrath to come. View all 6 comments. Sep 21, Mike rated it it was amazing. This is Baldwin at its potent-est. Of his non-fiction I've read, No Name in the Street is less meandering and is more graceful in how it coalesces than the still-excellent The Devil Finds Work , still vague about personal details in a classic Baldwin-ist way but less so than his other work, written with a pace more exhilarating than, say, Notes of a Native Son.
The quick appearance and subsequent disappearance of autobiographical detail, meaning how he uses as a springboard right into the biggest This is Baldwin at its potent-est. The quick appearance and subsequent disappearance of autobiographical detail, meaning how he uses as a springboard right into the biggest issues if only because those details were of him being at the frontlines, is astutely executed.
No Name in the Street is also affirmation of Baldwin being continually affirming and expansive within his own domain of knowledge, giving readers the gift of learning France's relations to Algeria from his vantage point, and even giving us what very sadly, to white readers could be considered the "alternate history" I sigh at that phrasing of the Black Panthers. It is clear to me and to many other Baldwin advocates how astute and searing he is at peeling away the layers of white guilt, white supremacy, etc.
It's no secret how much little has changed, and how No Name in the Street remains depressingly salient today due to its specificity handling police brutality and the criminal justice system for example, John Oliver's public defenders segment had a nice summary-esque write-up, all done in this book that predates it considerably.
Too many times had I notated "well, this is familiar" or something like that. I have made these points in other reviews of other James Baldwin books. But may I also say that Baldwin is full of everyday life wisdom? That's the light I want to shed onto this book. Taking away his politics, you can gems to live your life by, such as these: "I had made my decision, and once I had made it, nothing could make me waver, and nothing could make me alter it.
If there were errors in my concept of the film, and if I made errors in the execution, well, then, I would have to pay for my errors. But one can learn from one's errors. What one cannot survive is allowing other people to make your errors for you, discarding your own vision, in which, at least, you believe, for someone else's vision, in which you do NOT believe. Though I know what a very bitter and delicate and dangerous conundrum this is, it yet seems to me that a failure to respect the person so dangerously limits one's perception of the people that one risks betraying them and oneself, either by sinking to the apathy of cynical disappointment, or rising to the rage of knowing, better than the people do, what the people want.
It doesn't even need to be that you read Baldwin to learn more about race relations in America. You read Baldwin to become a better human. Oct 26, Alvin rated it really liked it. Like a sequel to The Fire Next Time, this is another thoughtful, clear-eyed, and eloquent missive from a particularly ghastly period in African American history. Baldwin's pessimism and despair following the assassination of so many of his compatriots is absolutely heart-rending.
Oct 19, Barry rated it really liked it Shelves: biography-memoir , race-black-experience. Part memoir, part social commentary, this book, as is seemingly true of all his works, is written with elegance and passion. Whoever is part of whatever civilization helplessly loves some aspects of it, and some of the people in it.
Dec 31, Drew rated it it was amazing Shelves: baldwin Last book of the year. A good way to ring out , and ring in A call to action, to excellence, to understanding. We all need more Baldwin, all the time. Jan 30, Gary rated it really liked it. James Baldwin speaks out like a prophet of Armageddon in this long essay, speaking against an awful backdrop of then-current and past history. Mar 05, Kusaimamekirai rated it it was amazing. Some books are so powerful and profound that they take your breath away as you read them.
This is just such a book. At the same time its anger was tempered by hope that things were perhaps still not too late. Written after the murders of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Malcom X, various Black Panthers, and the imprisonment of his frie Some books are so powerful and profound that they take your breath away as you read them.
Written after the murders of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Malcom X, various Black Panthers, and the imprisonment of his friends, Baldwin has no time for understanding or working to understand the white power structure. He understands it all too well. This is a full throated condemnation of the evils he sees around him. There are no punches pulled here. From police brutality, white people stubbornly refusing to acknowledge anything is wrong, and people being shot down in the streets it feels at times like Baldwin has jumped into a time machine and is condemning America circa rather than Were Baldwin alive today, he clearly would recognise much of the same world he lived in.
I seem to be in the minority when I say for the most part, I enjoy his novels more than his nonfiction, but nonetheless, this was engaging and thought-provoking from beginning to end. Jun 26, Tim rated it it was amazing. Published in , erase the specific historical references and the analysis of American racism and the condition of poor people, people of color and other marginalized groups is equally applicable to What does it take to break through to entire segments of society that are in denial or just don't care?
You can sense the despair here as every great leader of the movement was jailed or assassinated. Peaceful protesters today are called thugs and rioters with no attempt to understand the act Published in , erase the specific historical references and the analysis of American racism and the condition of poor people, people of color and other marginalized groups is equally applicable to Peaceful protesters today are called thugs and rioters with no attempt to understand the actual grievances of voices now heard around the world.
What form will leadership take today and will it be able to coalesce before the momentum is lost? Is lasting structural change possible in America or does the structure itself need to be completely torn down? If we can't figure it out the structure will collapse on its own and then what?
If you're into two-word reviews, that's mine for this book: Mandatory. Originally published in , this book remains exceptionally relevant far too relevant to our right now, and exceedingly prophetic. Hauntingly so. This is another book, and essentially a collection of heartbreakingly TRUE stories, I wish every person in our country would read, that I wish every person in every country would read.
Maybe if more people in our country in every country read books like this one, there would be less injustice, less hate, less racism, less socioeconomic and educational disparity in this world. Maybe there would be more civil, human, and equal rights. Maybe there would be more heartfelt, educated conversation. More kindness. More acceptance. More truth. I suppose that's putting a lot of pressure on any book, but it's books like these that feel game-changing to me in this sociopolitical climate.
It's books like these we need to LEARN from before we take too many steps in the altogether wrong direction. Before we undo every inch of progress we've made in this country creeping toward undeniable civil and HUMAN rights. We can do better.
We MUST do better if we're to escape the history of enslavement on which this country was so terrifyingly and undeniably founded. I want more books like this in my life. Not because they're particularly fun to read; it isn't "fun" to look a history of blatant racism and inequality in the face and let it know you see it standing there, and that you won't stand for it any longer. It isn't "fun" to read about assassinations and wrongful imprisonment of some of the best and brightest black minds and souls this nation has ever seen.
But it's necessary to step away from my own white privelege for as long as it takes to read a book like this and hopefully, for far longer than that , and to try my best to see from a vantage I can't possibly understand first-hand, but that I can hope to understand in pieces by listening. Only by listening. Jul 29, Tom Walsh rated it it was amazing. The Electric Voice of Baldwin perfectly captured. His understanding of The Black Panthers burns through the page.
This is the Voice that White Americans should be listening to. His Voice can make us feel and understand. Five Stars. Sadly, still relevant today. Mar 31, Nadine Jones rated it really liked it Shelves: memoir-and-autobiographical-essays , essays. This is a powerful book; an angry book; a shocking book; a frustrating book. I did not enjoy reading this. I have no idea how to rate this. I'm not sure how to review this.
The failure of the private life has always had the most devastating effect on American public conduct, and on black-white relations. That the scapegoat pays for the sins of others is well known, but this is only legend, and a revealing one at that. In fact, however the scapegoat may be made to suffer, his suffering cannot purify the sinner; it merely incriminates him the more, and it seals his damnation.
The scapegoat, eventually, is released, to death: his murderer continues to live. The suffering of the scapegoat has resulted in seas of blood, and yet not one sinner has been saved, or changed, by this despairing ritual. Sin has merely been added to sin, and guilt piled upon guilt. In the private chambers of the soul, the guilty party is identified,and the accusing finger, there, is not legend, but consequence, not fantasy, but the truth.
People pay for what they do, and, still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply: by the lives they lead. The crucial thing, here, is that the sum of these individual abdications menaces life all over the world. A head which, at this time, has no name. Boojum2k : It also left a man's decapitated body lying on the floor next to his own severed head. Lobbing swords about at random Try Ads-Free Fark.
They pull a broken bottle, you pull a knife. They pull a knife, you pull a sword. It's the Southall way. We should figure out if it was handed out by a samite clad woman in a pond. Resident Muslim. These guys were very OG British, no guns necessary. I know his name. I'm no expert but Amish Tech Support. Not surprising. They have a big werewolf problem there.
But they banned carrying knives over in the UK. I mean, that's how we solved the drug problem in the US. By banning drugs. Isn't that how it works? I need to know whether the swords were scimitars or not before I can ramp up a sense of umbrage.
Basically rattail tang, zero edge, stainless grinder-bait blades and a smooth grip. OTOH, somebody pulls out an original that's been kicking around in the family since Waterloo, and body parts are going to start flying. I totally read that in the voice of Walter Sobchak.
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