Heat wave on a birthday
It’s currently 103F/39.4C and hazy with smoke from a huge wildfire in Canada (see Extra for the view from my bedroom). This group of girls found relief on the ice rink in a shopping mall where I picked up some “eclipse glasses” for the 21st. I had my first water aerobics class this morning, then lunch with Jayna to plan more Buddhist events in solidarity with immigrants and people racially profiled by the police. During the blast-furnace heat of the afternoon I hunkered down in the air-conditioning while several young friends are out in the heat, distributing water and fruit to unhoused people. I didn’t feel I could join them.
Today is the birthday of Quanice Hayes, who didn’t live to be eighteen. It’s also the birthday of James Baldwin, who spent much of his life exposing white supremacy and explaining racism (some feel too kindly) to a country that didn’t want to hear about it.
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” --James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963).
“The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed the collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors....” --James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963).
Whether you think Baldwin was too soft on racism or you think he got it right, if you have not yet seen Raoul Peck’s film about him, in which all the words are Baldwin’s, do see it. It’s online if you have access to the services that distribute it. The trailer is free and accessible and gives you a taste of Baldwin’s verbal magic.