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In "A Talk to Teachers," whats the effect of baldwin's emphasizing his personal...

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mellyhamy | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:52 AM via web

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In "A Talk to Teachers," whats the effect of baldwin's emphasizing his personal experience when he begins paragraph 6 with "i still remember my first sight of New York"?

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eir | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 1, 2012 at 11:55 AM (Answer #1)

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Baldwin begins “A Talk to Teachers,” by saying that he is not a teacher. He has, however, been a child, who saw early on that what the histories, and etc, that the teachers were teaching was a false one.

By bringing in his own perspective as a child—a skeptical one, whom teachers may not have realized they had—he redefines students and teachers too “because,” as he says in his essay. “if I am not what I’ve been told I am, then it means that you’re not what you thought you were either!”

His overall message to teachers can be found in these lines:

It means that well-meaning white liberals place themselves in great danger when they try to deal with Negroes as though they were missionaries.  It means, in brief, that a great price is demanded to liberate all those silent people so that they can breathe for the first time and tell you what they think of you.

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