8.11.2016

Too Short for a Blog, Too Long for a Tweet XXXIX

Here's an excerpt from an article I just read, a book review in The Economist of Margo Jefferson's new book, "Negroland: A Memoir":

As Ms Jefferson observes, there are boxes into which white Americans can place outrageously wealthy black athletes and entertainers, and other boxes for poor black people, but when confronted by successful, diligent black lawyers, dentists and entrepreneurs—that is, when confronted by black people who have navigated the ordinary world as well or better than themselves—their imagination fails. “We are not what They want to see in their books and movies,” she writes. “Our We is too much like Theirs. Which threatens them, bores them, or both.”

This book encapsulates the tension between wanting and fearing to be seen. Ms Jefferson was taught to excel, but never to show off; to compete with anyone, regardless of race, and be comfortable anywhere, but to be aware that prejudice could rear its ugly head at any moment. She was spared the brutality of southern segregation; she learned to navigate a much subtler set of tacit rules and assumptions.
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