First, A mea culpa. I should have emphasized how Wright evolved in the mid to late 50's, his emphatic dismissal of Hemingway's perversely macho portrait's of Spain, his empathy for the Spanish women of the night in that same dismissal, and his poignant declaration at the Bandug conference that " If black women aren’t free, then we aren’t free". The grotesque imagery of eight men and Lawd Today, which Wright, I'll now admit, would have been horrified to see in print, should only be seen as a product of so many forces that had brutally pummeled him for almost all his life, via racism, the American government, the CIA, black writers who turned mercilessly against him, or the petite French bourgeoisie who discarded him when he tried to transcend the box they put him in
The second thing I did wrong is that I blamed Wright, who did have positive relationships women and did forward the careers of two of our greatest geniuses, Gwendolyn Brooks and, as you know, Margaret Walker Alexander, for the sins of his sons, which are in the multitude. Wright was his own special case and even if some of his demons got the better of him, what he did when he was here was a service to the world, not just our republic of letters. In no way should Wright be blamed for Chester Himes's fetishes for murdering white women, Amiri Baraka wanting to but white and black women, Jews, and black people who don’t think like him in the furnace, Ishmael reed, in Louisiana Red, suggesting that feminist should be raped, and, in Reckless Eyeballing, imagining Alice Walker being brutalized, or the diseased portraits of black women in the novels of Cecil Brown and the early Books of John A Williams.( I will also admit that While Killens has more than his fair share of issues, he did promote Maya Angelou and Paule Marshall, although I suspect that Chickenbones probably thinks of them as "madeas" conspiring to oppress the black man)
But what is interesting is how you and the commenters superimposed my dismissals of those specific writers as an indictment of all black male fiction. Because In my "rant" I didn’t mention Ralph Ellison, John Edgar Wideman, James Baldwin, Henry Dumas, David Bradley, Ernest Gaines or Leon Forrest, to name a few. But to recognize the achievement of those writers is to understand the shared humanity that black men have with Black women, each other and the world. That is something which you, given your terse and inarticulate defense of the ugly conduct of the pulp protest writers, have no use for.
One thing that especially struck me was your implied assumption, in your assertion of my ignorance of Wright's folkloric themes in Lawd Today, that Jackson beating his women from pillar to post is symbolic of our folklore? I know that most Black Nationalists and the glorified street punks that made remarks think of black women as receptacles and objects of their rage, but you, sir, should know better. And you should also know better to, in an essay stating my hysteria and ranting, present an argument that doesn’t resort to the same traits you accuse me of doing.
Later in the essay, you write:
"These men are neither saints nor demons. We cannot ask them to be more perfect than we are. They are writers, who for whatever faults they possess, have struggled with the situated necessities of African American and American literatures and with how language constantly resists our efforts to utter a “truth.” "
Which is a considerably eloquent defense of the struggle that black writers have gone through. Until, that is, one thinks of the black writers you are defending, and their contributions to the bloody, painful and tormenting wounds that we have as a people. You might think I’m self hating, and like Candide said, you have the right to cultivate your own garden. But I suggest you take a look outside the academy and your own little academic hustle( which has served you well) and take a look at what Black America is going through. The black women that you and your generation raged against so viciously and so brutally are carrying our race on their back, along with their daughters. Those black women and their daughters are doing this primarily without the help of black men. Those women are bombarded with brutal antebellum images every hour on the hour from BET and MTV. And because so many of them are unloved, are without fathers, and are without any kind of support from the black community whatsosver,they are breaking down. (http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0411,davis,51847,1.html)
I'm sorry if those chilling statistics dont terrify you or the members of chickenbones, but they scare me half to death. And I'd rather be the most snivelious, skinnin and grinnin porch monkey who speaks truth to power on how we are killing ourselves than a "real" black man who doesnt. Professor, I would rather be a hysterical self hating ranter, than a vulgar hack who steps on his sisters neck in order to get his little piece of academic pie. If your role suits you, along with the new school sociopaths who threatened violence to my person, well, that is between you and your conscience.