Created by. Because if I am not what I’ve been told I am, then it means that you’re not what you thought you were either! Now the crucial paradox which confronts us here is that the whole process of education occurs within a social framework and is designed to perpetuate the aims of society. And a price is demanded to liberate all those white children – some of them near forty – who have never grown up, and who never will grow up, because they have no sense of their identity. And why isn’t it for you? It happened here and there was no public uproar. There are doormen. I would teach him that he doesn’t have to be bound by the expediencies of any given administration, any given policy, any given morality; that he has the right and the necessity to examine everything. We are in a revolutionary situation, no matter how … The Saturday Review, December 21, 1963, pp. It is clean – because they collect garbage downtown. When I was living in Europe, for example, one of the worst revelations to me was the way Americans walked around Europe buying this and buying that and insulting everybody – not even out of malice, just because they didn’t know any better. We get into a bus and we go from where I live on 131st Street and Seventh Avenue downtown through the park and we get in New York City, which is not Harlem. I know that I understood them as he describes them because so much of what Baldwin describes speaks directly to my own experiences as a child. “A Talk to Teachers”© 1963 by James Baldwin was originally published in The Saturday Review . In his work, “A Talk to Teachers,” James Baldwin poured out his point of view on how he believed American children should be taught. It is clean—because they collect garbage downtown. The reason is that this “animal,” once he suspects his own worth, once he starts believing that he is a man, has begun to attack the entire power structure. Gravity. Article. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. It’s very hard to relate yourself to this. So where we are is that a whole country of people believe I’m a “nigger,” and I don’t , and the battle’s on! Now, if what I have tried to sketch has any validity, it becomes thoroughly clear, at least to me, that any Negro who is born in this country and undergoes the American educational system runs the risk of becoming schizophrenic. He is assumed by the republic that he, his father, his mother, and his ancestors were happy, shiftless, watermelon-eating darkies who loved Mr. Charlie and Miss Ann, that the value he has as a black man is proven by one thing only – his devotion to white people. Baldwin is therefore, in my estimation, a voice for all of the oppressed and exploited everywhere, regardless of color or ethnicity, the U.S. being but an agglomeration of ‘specific’ instances of the more general “condition” of “wage slavery” and “degradation” that obtains everywhere under capitalism, and, therefore, his talk is actually also an address to teachers everywhere, as pressing … Now let’s go back a minute. Howard Zinn, James Baldwin, and a journalist on Freedom Day in Selma, Alabama, October, 1963. On the one hand he is born in the shadow of the stars and stripes and he is assured it represents a nation which has never lost a war. I would teach him that if he intends to get to be a man, he must at once decide that his is stronger than this conspiracy and they he must never make his peace with it. Well, that is the way they have always treated me. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. A society, in turn, depends on certain things which everyone within that society takes for granted. All this means that there are in this country tremendous reservoirs of bitterness which have never been able to find an outlet, but may find an outlet soon. But if I was a “nigger” in your eyes, there was something about you—there was something you needed. Publication … I would try to make each child know that these things are the result of a criminal conspiracy to destroy him. Email This Page to Someone. You are mad. Yes, strides have been made, but I have not seen as much hate in our society as what there is today, since the 1960s, which I never wanted to see again. I am thankful that my mother was willing to stand up for respecting everyone. That’s how the country was settled. If he is really cunning, really ruthless, really strong – and many of us are – he becomes a kind of criminal. And if that was so there was no point in dealing with white people in terms of their own moral professions, for they were not going to honor them. The reason is that this “animal,” once he suspects his own worth, once he starts believing that he is a man, has begun to attack the entire power structure. But a black child, looking at the world around him, though he cannot know quite what to make of it, is aware that there is a reason why his mother works so hard, why his father is always on edge. It was a deliberate policy hammered into place in order to make money from black flesh. And the reason is that if you are compelled to lie about one aspect of anybody’s history, you must lie about it all. The essay was originally delivered as an address in New York City on Oct. 16, 1963, titled The Negro Child: His Self-Image.