Category Archives: History

“The past is already in debt to the mismanaged present. And besides, contrary to what you may have heard or learned, the past is not done and it is not over, it’s still in process, which is another way of saying that when it’s critiqued, analyzed, it yields new information about itself. The past is already changing as it is being reexamined, as it is being listened to for deeper resonances. Actually it can be more liberating than any imagined future if you are willing to identify its evasions, its distortions, its lies, and are willing to unleash its secrets.”

Toni Morrison on How to Be Your Own Story and Reap the Rewards of Adulthood in a Culture That Fetishizes Youth

(via Molten Soul)

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It is no wonder that the autobiographical medium has dominated black modes of written expression. The autobiographical moment afforded a contradiction in racist reason: How could the black, who by definition was not fully human and hence without a point of view, produce a portrait of his or her point of view? The black autobiography announced a special form of biography, a text that was read for insight into blackness, which meant that paradoxically some of the problems of epistemic closure continued through an engagement that admitted epistemic possibility. The interest in black autobiography carried expectation and curiosity. One could see the further titillation that emerged from the addendum to several nineteenth-century narratives, including that of Frederick Douglass, ‘as written by himself.’ A black man who could write?

–Lewis Gordon

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“What exactly is the tradition the Confederate battle flag is meant to represent? Is it slavery, rape, kidnapping, genocide, treason, or all of the above?”

–Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, standing by the Confederate flag on the House floor arguing for a National Parks ban on displaying and selling the symbol of “hatred and oppression.”

(via KEW)

The fact that 53 years later neither segregation nor discrimination have been eliminated indicates the eagerness with which white Americans have adopted the idea that securing racial justice was a matter of the passing of a law and the martyrdom of a great man.

Chris Lebron, “What, To the Black American, Is Martin Luther King Jr. Day?”

(via KEW)

It is the representation of black lesbian lives, not simply its analysis and deconstruction that has the most immediate, broad-based and long-lasting cultural and historical impact. Only by telling our stories in the most specific, imagistic, and imaginative narratives do the lives of black lesbians take on long-term literary and political significance.

–Jewelle Gomez “But Some of Us Are Brave Lesbians: The Absence of Black Lesbian Fiction”

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One critical point underlying Afrofuturism is the persistence of the Black existence into the as-yet-undefined future, so that even if Afrofuturism changes its name, the foundation will persist. We stand at a critical point in this thing called history where we can freeze the moment and recognize our abilities to manipulate the collective timeline for positive change. Creating the future, defining the meaning of the future and our existence in it, I believe, is the power of Afrofuturism. And so Afrofuturism and the concepts connected to it must always be here, if we are to be here. And I believe we will be.

Fantastic Books I’ve Edited: Week VI: Recurrence Plot (And Other Time Travel Tales) by Rasheedah Phillips//The AfroFuturist Affair

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We had defended ourselves since memory against everything and everybody, considered all speech a code to be broken by us, and all gestures subject to careful analysis; we had become headstrong, devious and arrogant. Nobody paid us any attention, so we paid very good attention to ourselves.

–Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

(via the dopest ethiopienne)

I got to bask in Professor Morrison’s presence for the third time on Friday afternoon. I then got to see pieces of her original handwritten manuscripts, saw the words she crossed out when she changed her mind, the notes she thought to add upon a second or third read. I am humbled by how profoundly lucky this makes me.

What is called collective memory is not a remembering but a stipulating: that this is important, and this is the story about how it happened, with the pictures that lock the story in our minds. Ideologies create substantiating archives of images, representative images, which encapsulate common ideas of significance and trigger predictable thoughts, feelings.

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, pg.86

(via KEW)

Black people are Americans, one of the oldest classes of Americans. It is crucial to understand this. We are not seeking integration into someone else’s burning house. We built the house. It belongs to us as much as it belongs to anyone.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, To Raise, Love, and Lose a Black Child The Atlantic Oct 8, 2014

(via knowledge equals black power)

When we look objectively at how the dry bones of the nation were hung together, it seems obvious that some one of the many groups that compose the United States had to suffer the fate of being allowed no easy escape from experiencing the harsh realities of the human condition as they were to exist under even so fortunate a democracy as ours. It would seem that some one group had to be stripped of the possibility of escaping such tragic knowledge by taking sanctuary in moral equivocation, racial chauvinism or the advantage of superior social status. There is no point in complaining over the past or apologizing for one’s fate. But for blacks there are no hiding places down here, not in suburbia or in penthouse, neither in country nor in city. They are an American people who are geared to what is, and who yet are driven by a sense of what it is possible for human life to be in this society. The nation could not survive being deprived of their presence because, by the irony implicit in the dynamics of American democracy, they symbolize both its most stringent testing and the possibility of its greatest human freedom.

Ralph Ellison, “What America Would Be Like Without Blacks,” Time Magazine April 6, 1970.

(via knowledge equals black power)