Me + Baldwin @ a beach in Long Island, Summer ’08.
I Love Baldwin and it seems that every summer I return to his collection of essays published by the Library of America.
What is the job of Black writers? The work?
Baldwin addresses this in the essay “Notes for a Hypothetical Novel.”
I like this quote because it gets at how writing is profoundly rewarding and often a Sisyphean task as well.
The importance of a writer is continuous;?? I think it’s socially debatable and usually socially not terribly, but that’s not the point; his importance, I think, is that he is here to describe things which other people are too busy to describe. It is a function, let’s face it, it is a special function. There is no democracy on this level. It’s a very difficult thing to do, its a very special thing to do and people who do it cannot by that token do many other things. But their importance is, and the importance of writers in this country now this is, that this country is yet to be discovered in any real sense…
Baldwin doesn’t say that this is the job of Black writers, but in reading this it certainly made me think of it in these terms.
Black people are richer than ever before, financially. More Black men and women are in jail than ever before. We also have a Black president.
As media, and the rest of our lives moves online, I am mindful that most of the popular Black websites are concerned with the lives, affairs and misery of the Black famous rather than using the space to cultivate what Dayna Cunningham calls Black voice.
Black people have continually forced the United States to live up to being the democracy that it claims to be.
What happens when Black people who are media savvy are not primarily concerned with cultivating Black voice during a time of great change?
If everything that is digital is free, and as books become digitized, what will happen to Black writers ability to sustain themselves and how will this impact Black people?