Social Baldwin

The James Baldwin International Conference was held in Paris in late May, sponsored by the American University. 200+ scholars gathered to discuss their pursuit of “Baldwin Studies”, eat, drink, make merry, and remember the giant who once walked in our midst.

I am delivered – out of the jaws of hell. My journey splits my skull, – and, as I rise, I fall. – “Christmas Carol”

Baldwin was more than a writer, or a poet. He had the capacity to inspire others, myself included, to be more than just a passive lump on the sidewalk. He will be remembered for a long, long time.

Light in St. Maarten

St. Maarten is on the edge of the Atlantic, far from everything. The night sky is amazing. I saw Venus shining on the water, and a moonbeam, a column of light striking the water.

St. Maarten is one of those international places, where you can find many languages, customs, and wonderful food. It is easy to get a cab into town, or cross the border to the French side, St. Martin.

I was there to see my friends, Laura and Donna. We were celebrating our birthdays, and the trip we took in 1987 when I was a Washington, D.C. intern for my last semester of law school. Travel is broadening, and a lot of fun!

 

Miles Ahead: Good to Go

“Miles Ahead” addresses major themes in the life of Miles Davis: music, women, hassles, his duality, and his constant search for something new. If you want facts, read his 1989 autobiography. But if you want some sense of what his life was like, see the film.

The sense of chaos and surprise is constant. Every day was something new for Davis. His hassles with record company executives and his impossible demands on his women, are well represented. Emayatzy Corinealdi brilliantly moves from In Love Frances to Fed Up Frances, quite rapidly, as the wife of a man with traditional attitudes about the place of women, and brutal hypocrisy about his own conduct. Davis got rid of all of his women, not just Frances Taylor.

The most fascinating aspect of the film for me is Cheadle’s artistic vision of Davis’s life experience and emotional nature, which coincides almost exactly with my own. Either we’re right, or we’re just a couple of big dummies. See for yourself.

 

 

Book Review: Warriors Don’t Cry

“Warriors Don’t Cry,” by Melba Pattillo Beals (1994), describes the experience of integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. It is a good reminder of all the ways people can be hateful, and feel justified doing it. The South was encouraged to be lawless and discriminatory after the Hayes Compromise of 1877, when the Federal Government agreed to turn a blind eye to any means of controlling the African American population in the South.

It is wrong to use the color of law to create a concentration camp atmosphere complete with the Ku Klux Klan, economic warfare, and shutting down high schools and pools, simply to avoid integration. It can happen again, and we should not be complacent. Beals had to move to Santa Rosa, California, to complete high school. She is a good example for all of us. Highly recommended.