I am still continuing to try to understand the social and historical context in which Baldwin was living and writing. There are parts of me that understand that he was choosing his words carefully in order to appeal to those of the time, and who he was writing for. And there are the other parts of me that think back to our discussion of revolution and how we cannot change the way America was built if we do not burn everything down, and how there were so many opportunities for Baldwin to do this. I think back to him constantly referring to himself as “strange” or the “stranger” in Paris and how if he would have spoken out about Algeria he might have faced the same backlash that Martin Luther King did when speaking out about the Vietnam War. However, Paris was not his country. As you can see the back and forth that my mind is struggling with on this topic. The issues of the treatment of Black Women was in his country and most of the time a part of the same struggles that he was fighting for, yet the acknowledgement was not there.
As Professor Kinyon stated last class, it is important that when one is refuting something or making claims, it needs to be based in fact and I am not an expert by any means, I acknowledge that. However, there is some truth in the way that Baldwin’s conversation and his portrayal of Black women has made me feel. I also understand the idea of representation and that the women he was writing about were products of their time, but given the freedom of artistic choice when writing your own novels, I begin to question one’s true intention. Again, I am not an expert in the slightest and am being affected by the power of hindsight and I fully acknowledge that. I will continue to do the research I had started for my paper and presentation and will continue to keep an open mind and understand that one never stops learning.