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  • Writer's pictureEvangeline Lawson

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

What makes James Baldwin a literary icon is his timelessness. The words written are just as true today as they were then, but written so gloriously that you can't help but ponder what vision he had, while respecting the wisdom and insight he was so dedicated to imparting.

In his almost signature style of essays, Notes of a Native Son is no exception to his other works in that it takes a deep dive into the the Black American condition and position, beyond just identifying what the issues are. He also discusses how they arose and are continuously perpetuated.

For example, in regards to being a Black man in American society, Baldwin states "We do not know what to do with him in life; if he breaks our sociological and sentimental image of him we are panic-stricken and we feel ourselves betrayed. When he violates this image, therefore, he stands in the greatest danger (sensing which, we uneasily suspect that he is often playing a part for our benefit); and, what is not always apparent but is equally true, we are then in some danger ourselves—hence our retreat to our blind and immediate retaliation."

Reading this passage brings to mind the backlash that Civil Rights Leaders faced, but also the trauma that we as Black people still face as we navigate through our ever-changing, but not necessarily evolving society. As usual, this book is deep and cannot be breezed through but definitely a must read. #blackhistorymonth

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