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Can someone briefly tell me what is Baldwin talking about in this essay please?hope...

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readeal3 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted January 16, 2012 at 2:44 AM via web

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Can someone briefly tell me what is Baldwin talking about in this essay please?

hope this helps what I'm doing - I'm forming an essay from James Baldwins' "My dungeon Shook" - Baldwin metaphorically uses his nephew, James, to represent Black people; the letter is literally addressed to James, but figuratively Baldwin is speaking to the Black community

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 16, 2012 at 4:53 AM (Answer #1)

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James Baldwin basically says that black people should not listen to white people who think that blacks should live and die in the ghetto; but that they should remember the strength of their ancenstors and believe in themselves.  But he doesn't sound bitter about it too much because he is an advocate for not judging others and accepting people for who they are.  But accepting people for who they are doesn't mean that you have to believe what they say about you, either.

He actually looks at the situation from the white perspective and understands that some may not really know any better than what they've been taught (as far as how to treat black people, etc.) But he also understands that some do know better and won't act on what they know to be true.  It is interesting that he says, "people find it very difficult to act on what they know.  To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger.  In this case, the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of identity."

Baldwin does not call for violence in his letter to his nephew James, but he empowers him to realize that he is in control of how he feels, how he lives, and what he believes, no matter what other people say.

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