James Baldwin's The First Next Time

2061 words - 9 pages

James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time is a novel that views white America through the lenses of a black Negro. Baldwin’s novel consist of two essays, the shorter one is a letter to his nephew trying to give an explanation on the world he lives in and what and how it sort of got that way, the longer essay is more explicit and descriptive of the history of white America and where the black people fit in. Baldwin’s essays are very much similar to other context that we have encountered, but just have a different approach; he tries to acknowledge the wrongs, but wants to correct them starting with the white people.
The introduction to the novel is the first shorter essay from him to his nephew. ...view middle of the document...

Although Baldwin is for integration he does make it clear that he does not have to “try to become like white people” because you don’t need to be like them and on the same hand they don’t “have” to accept who we are. (Baldwin, 8) Baldwin ends by saying that the world is going to have to make a change and though it was the 100th anniversary of freedom, there is no reason to celebrate because “we cannot be free until they are free.” (Baldwin, 10).
Baldwin starts his second essay by describing his childhood. He talks about his father and how he was a Christian and preacher, but also how the relationship between the two was not a good one. He did not let this bad relationship diminish his hope because he was determined not to be what society expected and he wanted to make sure he exceeded them. Baldwin does not hold back on elaborating what could be his future, as it had become some of his friends over the years “my friends began to drink and smoke”. This is what our racial world had to offer black adolescence. Then as he goes deeper in into his essays he says that eventually his friends “were “downtown” fighting the man” which Baldwin goes on to say means that they began to care less about the way they dressed and sometimes weeping about what it is that oppressed them the “man” the white man.” (Baldwin, 19) The blame was still on the white man being the oppressor and the blacks being oppressed. But again at the same time Baldwin reiterated how they can change who they are becoming and that they did not have to perish in the ghetto. The same oppression was very much in full effect because as Baldwin stated being black is a political reality” meaning that the color of a person skin is not a “human or personal reality” it reveals your place in the world. He continues by saying that he black people now have to try and blend in in a nation where they have been ultimately oppressed started with them being brought over in shackles. (Baldwin, 104) Blacks are still feeling as though they are not accepted into America and will forever by inferior to white people, because white people have power and are the primary ones who started the oppression. This book was written in 1963 and that was the time period during the “Movement” which is displaying some of the same if not identical, but similar objectives of blacks and the segregation. During one of the encounters at church Elijah, had been speaking about the white men and the crimes of them, when a “young dark and sober boy” had stood and said “the white man is the devil, he proves it with his actions”. The black population did not feel like it was going to get better and that equality would come, unlike James Baldwin who believed that the world could get better through acceptance and integration. Referencing back to Malcolm X’s speech “The Ballot or the Bullet” he say that educated or illiterate, Methodist or Muslim, we are going to “catch the same hell from the same hell from the same man,. He just...

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