An American Negro, however deep his sympathies, or however bright his rage, ceases to be simply a black man when he faces a black man from Africa. When I say simply a black man, I do not mean that being a black man is simple, anywhere. . . . [W]hen he faces an African, he is facing the unspeakably dark, guilty, erotic past which the Protestant fathers made him bury—for their peace of mind, and for their power—but which lives in his personality and haunts the universe yet. What an African, facing an American Negro sees, I really do not yet know; and it is too early to tell with what scars and complexes the African has come up from the fire. (James Baldwin, “Alas, Poor Richard”)
Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch. (James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name)
An overdue promissory note—to write something on “the” African’s “scars and complexes.” Points of entanglement between diaspora and exile, diaspora and diaspora; the differential “making” of “blackness” in and across space. The “labor” of kinship and other forms of “taking up” affiliation. The different opportunities offered by Washingtonian and Du Boisian models, and the imagined and real pre-histories these models skirt.