This is an email from Black on Both Sides, a newsletter by Established in 1865.
45 has sown the wind since COVID-19 began infecting Americans, and now he reaps the whirlwind. He currently convalescences at Walter Reed.
In the sea of white people 45 infected with his actions and carelessness, I try to find the story of Blackness within.
Black people make up a disproportionate amount of COVID-19 infections, hospitalization, and deaths. We can blame our historical segregation, our epigenetics which causes our bodies and souls to endure weathering, and our nation’s lack of commitment to providing health care.
But now its latest outbreak is sickening the white political caste of America. They do not have the structural disadvantages that stalk Black life. It is only through defiance of science and reason that such an outcome was possible. Black personhood has a complex relationship with science, but we mostly come to rely on it to corroborate our folklore. What does the White House outbreak say about white people and science, especially given 45’s enduring support with his base?
What I’m Writing
I know I’ve not produced any recent content for Established in 1865. I’ve successfully pitched several pieces I was working on to publications. This means that I’m getting paid for my writing! It’s a happy progression of this passion of mine, and I promise to produce exclusive content for the blog within the next week or so! In the meanwhile, please check out some of my writing:
White Allies Must Confront Their Heritage of Sabotaging Black Movements. For GEN, I write about the concept of ancestral pain and how white people not having one damages the allyship they try to show to Black Lives Matter:
White people do not have a coherent sense of ancestral pain. They crib ours and misuse it, which results in Walls of Moms and white people who can wear the clothing of my movement and avoid eye contact with me in the produce sections of my local supermarket.
Blood on the Pavement: White Supremacy Guides our Response to the Shooting of Megan Thee Stallion. Meg made her triumphant debut on Saturday Night Live and gave a rousing, political performance. I write about how white supremacy constrained her response to her shooting and why she is so culturally important to Black people.
The Claim: Sade’s Early Years and her Complicated, Conflicted Blackness and The Dignified Child: In Her Music, Sade Answers the Great Question of the West. Sade is releasing “This Far,” all her albums remastered on a vinyl set. Sade is my favorite singer and in these two pieces, I explore the story of her Black personhood:
Black music has always provided a rejoinder to the great question of the West — “What to do with Black people?” Our rejoinder has always been “How do we live and love in the West, a civilization that did not have us loving each other in mind when it created itself through the Triangle Trade and slavery?”
What I’m Reading
The Short Tenure and Abrupt Ouster of Banking’s Sole Black C.E.O., the New York Times. “Tidjane Thiam made Credit Suisse profitable again. But the Swiss rejected him as an outsider, and a sudden scandal took him down.”
The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination From Harry Potter To The Hunger Games by Ebony Thomas. “Here is a racial, potentially dangerous thought: Maybe it’s not that kids and teens of color and other marginalized and minoritized young people don’t like to read…There has not been much sustained scholarly conversation about how kids and teens of color are affected by their representation in books, movies, comics, and online.” Thomas asserts we do not know how “those story representations shape not only the lives of young people today but whether they will want to pick up the next books, or the other media associated with it, tomorrow.”
Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin. Baldwin is my favorite writer. In re-reading the eponymous essay from this book, I’m struck at how little has changed since the 1960s. The man was a prophet. I leave y’all with these quotes:
On the limits of respectability politics in Atlanta — “On any night, in that other part of town, a policeman may beat up one Negro, or some Negro or some white man may simply go berserk. This is all it takes to drive so delicately balanced a city mad. And the island on which these Negroes have built their handsome houses will simply disappear.”
On the national conflagration of race riots:
“When a race riot occurs in Atlanta, it will not spread merely to Birmingham, for example. (Birmingham is a doomed city.) The trouble will spread to every metropolitan center in the nation which has a significant Negro population. And this is not only because the ties between Northing and Southern Negroes are still very close. It is because the nation, the entire nation, has spent a hundred years avoiding the question of the black man in it.”