Peter J. Gomes Favorite Books

gomes

Peter J. Gomes was a half Black and half Cape Verdean preacher and professor at Harvard University.  He was not a Afrotraditionalist to my knowledge (although I won’t dismiss it completely as he was known to enjoy Amos & Andy)  but he was certainly a traditionalist of a sort despite being a black fellow from Massachusetts whom was also gay.

He had great respect for the western artistic canon and in the following passages from the book Cheerful Money, he explains his “Young Fogyism”

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Here he lists his favorite books with a very interesting back story.

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Afrofogess Zora Hurston and poet Countee Cullen

CCullen Mrs. Hurston is the mother of Afrotraditionalist thought. But everyone from progressive and Republican Blacks can learn from her always astute observations. She even has something for those inclined to follow early Malcolm X. I will note (and bold the text) that Zora like all the elders who inform Afrofogey thought, recognized the many poisons Liberal whites brought upon blacks. Here she talks about how offended white liberals were to find she did not pine for their company and had no problem with social segregation. Zora and Countee Cullen correspondence on PBS’s website. 

Dear Countee: Thanks a million for your kind letter. I am always proud to have a word of praise from you because your friendship means a great deal to me. It means so much to me because I have never known you to make an insincere move, neither for personal gain, nor for malice growing out of jealousy of anyone else. Then too, you are my favorite poet now as always since you began to write. I have always shared your approach to art. That is, you have written from within rather than to catch the eye of those who were making the loudest noise for the moment. I know that hitch-hiking on band-wagons has become the rage among Negro artists for the last ten years at least, but I have never thumbed a ride and can feel no admiration for those who travel that way. I have pointed you out on numerous occasions as one whose integrity I respected, and whose example I wished to follow. Now, as to segregation, I have no viewpoint on the subject particularly, other than a fierce desire for human justice. The rest of it is up to the individual. Personally, I have no desire for white association except where I am sought and the pleasure is mutual. That feeling grows out of my own self-respect. However blue the eye or yellow the hair, I see no glory to myself in the contact unless there is something more than the accident of race. Any other viewpoint would be giving too much value to a mere white hide. I have offended several “liberals” among the whites by saying this bluntly. I have been infuriated by having them ask me outright, or by strong implication if I am not happy over the white left-wing associating with Negroes. I always say no. Then I invariably ask why the association should give a Negro so much pleasure? Why any more pleasure than with a black “liberal”? They never fail to flare up at that which proves that they are paying for the devout worship that many Negroes give them in the cheap coin of patronage, which proves that they feel the same superiority of race that they claim to deny. Otherwise, why assume that they have done a noble deed by having contact with Negroes? Countee, I have actually had some of them to get real confidential and point out that I can be provided with a white husband by seeing things right! White wives and husbands have been provided for others, etc. I invariably point out that getting hold of white men has always been easy. I don’t need any help to do that. I only wish that I could get everything else so easily as I can get white men. I am utterly indifferent to the joy of other Negroes who feel that a marriage across the line is compensation for all things, even conscience. The South must laugh and gloat at the spectacle and say “I told you so! That is a black person’s highest dream.” If a white man or woman marries a Negro for love that is all right with me, but a Negro who considers himself or herself paid off and honored by it is a bit too much for me to take. So I shall probably never become a “liberal.” Neither shall I ever let myself be persuaded to have my mind made up for me by a political job. I mean to live and die by my own mind. If that is cowardly, then I am a coward. When you come to analyze it, Countee, some of the stuff that has passed as courage among Negro “leaders” is nauseating. Oh, yes, they are right there with the stock phrases, which the white people are used to and expect, and pay no attention to anymore. They are rather disappointed if you do not use them. But if you suggest something real just watch them back off from it. I know that the Anglo-Saxon mentality is one of violence. Violence is his religion. He has gained everything he has by it, and respects nothing else. When I suggest to our “leaders” that the white man is not going to surrender for mere words what he has fought and died for, and that if we want anything substantial we must speak with the same weapons, immediately they object that I am not practical. No, no indeed. The time is not ripe, etc. etc. Just point out that we are suffering injustices and denied our rights, as if the white people did not know that already! Why don’t I put something about lynchings in my books? As if all the world did not know about Negroes being lynched! My stand is this: either we must do something about it that the white man will understand and respect, or shut up. No whiner ever got any respect or relief. If some of us must die for human justice, then let us die. For my own part, this poor body of mine is not so precious that I would not be willing to give it up for a good cause. But my own self-respect refuses to let me go to the mourner’s bench. Our position is like a man sitting on a tack and crying that it hurts, when all he needs to do is to get up off it. A hundred Negroes killed in the streets of Washington right now could wipe out Jim Crow in the nation so far as the law is concerned, and abate it at least 60% in actuality. If any of our leaders start something like that then I will be in it body and soul. But I shall never join the cry-babies. You are right in assuming that I am indifferent to the pattern of things. I am. I have never liked stale phrases and bodyless courage. I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions. I suppose you have seen my denial of the statements of Douglas Gilbert of the World-Telegram. I know I made him sore. He is one of the type of “liberals” I spoke of. They are all Russian and want our help to put them in power in the U.S. but I know that we would be liquidated soon after they were in. They will have to get there the best way they can for all I care. Cheerio, good luck, and a happy encounter (with me) in the near future. Sincerely, Zora Document from Amistad Research Center, Tulane University. “Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun” is available on DVD at www.newsreel.org

What I am into Vol. 4

Old Waynesboro Country Ham

I suppose one good thing about having a largely ignored blog is no one notices when I’m not on schedule. I am a week late with this post, my apologies.
The picture above is that of a country ham I recently received. It tastes great, I actually ate breakfast for dinner last night so I’d have a reason to have some more.

This morning, I started editing an old post on the failures of America’s black middle class. I am not much of a writer so it isn’t coming along all that well, but I’ll share the opening paragraphs:

The Boston Brahmins revered history and worshiped their forbearers, shunned materialism and promoted art, culture and spirituality. These Bostonians stood atop America’s caste system, and were called Brahmins-after the Hindus who owned a similar position in their culture’s class structure. A lesser known social phenomenon were a strata of Negros whom lived adjacent to these elite Bostonians, who emulated these values. They were highly literate, loved knowledge, lived to glorify their ancestors and their sense of noblise oblige led them to be at the for front of the abolition movement. Unfortunately they were quite insular, practiced an odd form colorism and engaged in middle class snobbery. They of course weren’t Brahmins, but middle class – Negros hadn’t the freedom to gain such a status. Still they sat astride Northeastern Black America’s class structure and maybe even Black America’s. They also exhibited the failure of our nations Black upper and middle classes to lead, inability to create an model 0f aristocracy based upon values owned by them. Never created a philosophy of thought particular to African Americans, matter of fact they embraced White American values wholeheartedly, though fortunately they emulated the most noble of whites.

Paul Devlin is an expert on Albert Murray and Ralph Ellison, as far as I am concerned. He is also amazingly literate and well read and seems to always know how to highlight the most interesting parts of whatever he is reading. I follow him on Twitter and he is maybe the only person on their who can critique T.S Eliot and has also read Ice Burg Slim.  Not to mention he can easily float between discussions on Louis Armstrong and Krs One (tho somehow he doesn’t understand that Big Daddy Kane is the superior artist.) Anyway, I think its clear I am an admirer him. Here is an article on Ralph Ellsion he wrote for Slate, called Why Did Ralph Ellison Never Publish his Second Novel?,  its a great read so check it out. The references he makes will give atleast a month worth of literature to read.  Here is a little taste:

What if Ellison’s novel didn’t end in fire, but in ice? In 1967, the crime novelist Iceberg Slim, a reformed pimp, published Trick Baby: The Story of a White Negro, which features an African-American con man, Blue Leon Howard and his protégé, Johnny O’Brien, better known on the south side of Chicago as “White Folks,” an African-American but “a dead ringer for Errol Flynn.”

Slim, like Ellison, was clearly intrigued by the possibilities that a “white Negro” suggested for fiction, and the two stories have several notable parallels. Slim situates the smooth operator O’Brien, much like Ellison’s cunning Bliss, as the adopted son of a tough, wise, soulful African-American man. The age difference between Slim’s Howard-and-O’Brien team is approximately the same as that between Ellison’s Hickman-and-Bliss team, about 25 years. And just like Bliss, O’Brien eventually leaves the African-American community that raised him behind and blends in with white circles in America.

In contrast to Mailer’s white hipster, who seeks a sort of anesthetic sexual liberation through what Mailer sees as the wild, psycho-sexual world of blackness, Ellison and Slim’s characters appear unambiguously white yet are raised within highly-structured institutions of the African-American community: the church and the con game. Christianity, and even the big con, reflect a formality that Mailer failed to see in African-American culture. To Mailer, African-Americans are “cultureless” and “illiterate,” comprising a community that “relinquished the pleasures of the mind for the more obligatory pleasures of the body.” A far cry from Mailer’s white Negro, Ellison and Slim’s white Negroes, though raised on opposite sides of the black community, both learn rhetorical techniques from their adoptive black fathers that they then  employ  for personal gain on the other side of the color line. These “white Negroes” are wily operators, shrewd manipulators of psyches and institutions, and ice-cold customers on a relentless quest for money and power—hardly primitives chasing orgasms.

Sunday would not be Sunday with out a bit of Gospel. I don’t actually tend to like this style of gospel music, but do like this redo of the old Negro Spiritual Balm in Gilead by the Clark Sisters. Good day and God bless.

Kentucky Educator,Poet & Author Joseph Cotter

Joseph Seamon Kotter

This a 1909 poetic ditty by Kentucky educator Joseph Cotter (sometimes considered Black America’s first great poet) criticized the tendency of black “intellectuals” to belittle the economic achievements of the black farmer in contrast to the elites’ own college-bred attainments. He pointed out that many an experienced farmer earned a better livelihood than some college graduates. He wrote*:

Dr. Booker T. Washington to the National Negro Business League

’Tis strange indeed to hear us plead
   For selling and for buying
When yesterday we said: “Away
   With all good things but dying.”

 

The world’s ago, and we’re agog
   To have our first brief inning;
So let’s away through surge and fog
   However slight the winning.

 

What deeds have sprung from plow and pick!
   What bank-rolls from tomatoes!
No dainty crop of rhetoric
   Can match one of potatoes.

Ye orators of point and pith,
   Who force the world to heed you,
What skeletons you’ll journey with
   Ere it is forced to feed you.

A little gold won’t mar our grace,
   A little ease our glory.
This world’s a better biding place
   When money clinks its story.
*quoted was written by Elizabeth Wright