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Studies in Symbolic Interaction

ISBN: 978-0-76231-096-8, eISBN: 978-1-84950-261-0

Publication date: 7 July 2004


By informing their children that Black women, Black men and Black children had no human integrity that those who call themselves white were bound to respect. And in this debasement and definition of Black people, they debased and defamed themselves. And have brought humanity to the edge of oblivion: because they think they are white. Because they think they are white, they do not dare confront the ravage and the lie of their history. Because they think they are white, they cannot allow themselves to be tormented by the suspicion that all men are brothers. Because they think they are white, they are looking for, or bombing into existence, stable populations, cheerful natives and cheap labor. Because they think they are white, they believe, as even no child believes, in the dream of safety. Because they think they are white, however vociferous they may be and however multitudinous, they are as speechless as Lot’s wife – looking backward, changed into a pillar of salt…It is a terrible paradox, but those who believed that they could control and define Black people divested themselves of the power to control and define themselves. – On Being “White”…and Other Lies, James Baldwin (1984), Essence in Black on White edited by David Roediger. To be a jazz freedom fighter is to attempt to galvanize and energize world-weary people into forms of organization with accountable leadership that promote critical exchange and broad reflection. The interplay of individuality and unity is not one of uniformity and unanimity imposed from above but rather of conflict among diverse groupings that reach a dynamic consensus subject to questioning and criticism. As with a soloist in a jazz quartet, quintet or band, individuality is promoted in order to sustain and increase the creative tension with the group – a tension that yields higher levels of performance to achieve the aim of the collective project. This kind of critical and democratic sensibility flies in the face of any policing of borders and boundaries of “blackness,” “maleness,” “femaleness,” or “whiteness.” – Race Matters, Cornel West (2001).“Since you’ve gone liberal I was going to get that book by that O’Reilly character, thought that would be real funny. We watch him almost every night.” My grandma laughs at her joke. I laugh along and say, “I’m glad you didn’t waste your money.” It’s her phrasing that catches me. I’ve gone somewhere? If so I’ve been there a while, why is everyone just now noticing? Maybe post September 11th America has highlighted my refusals to wave the flag, and they can no longer ignore me in their own “good” conscience. Or maybe in this post September 11th America I have become more adamant to be heard. The more I think about it, the more appropriate it seems. I feel like I have gone somewhere and keep getting farther away.


Murphy, E. (2004), "LIMINAL BORDERS AND VARIOUS SHADINGS: A COLLAGE OF COLORLESSNESS", Studies in Symbolic Interaction (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 27), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 289-296.



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