Baldwin saw his race lynched, beaten, and emotionally tormented, alongside white America’s indifference towards this social problem. He witnessed firsthand the shortcomings of his country. Meanwhile, his father obfuscated this intense reality, which likely paralleled a similarly hidden reality of white people his age whose parents repeatedly eluded such inequalities because it was easier than facing them head-on.
For Baldwin, trouncing social injustice requires the white man’s knowledge of how to love the Negro, to love one must suffer reality by facing their fears of experiencing the wicked and unknown. Ironically, the only wicked and unknown is that of the white man’s private fears and longings projected onto the Negro, fear of the
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No longer would white people have to look away from the Negro (Baldwin, 30). To accomplish this, he must consent to “become black himself, to become part of that suffering and dancing country” (Baldwin, 96). One cannot give until giving oneself, risk giving freedom by setting free the Negro (Negro, 86). On the other hand, if “we persist in thinking of ourselves as one, we condemn ourselves, with the truly white nations, to sterility and decay, whereas if we could accept ourselves as we are, we might bring new life to the Western achievements, and transform them (Baldwin, 93-94).” There is a limit to the number of blacks that white people may imprison; the existing course is unsustainable (Baldwin, 103). The cost of this paradigm shift comes at the unconditional freedom of the Negro; after many years of subjection to social injustice, the Negro must now be embraced at all costs (Baldwin, 94). But the white man cannot effect such immense change in America’s social and political structure.
With that being said, it is up to the Negro to negotiate, as nobly as possible, a path to freedom for the sake of his descendants (Baldwin, 92). The Negro has a history of persisting through struggle, found barring yet another door to white people’s “spiritual and social ease. And though he is capable of precipitating chaos and ruining the American dream, such altercations would not be conducive to a successful outcome (Baldwin, 88).
Blacks may well charge this