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A Review of James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time is a prolific piece of writing that spans decades beyond his time here with us.  This book features two letters: My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation and Down At The Cross: Letter from a Region in My Mind. Both pieces give the readers a profound and oftentimes provocative look at racism and what it meant (and still means) to be Black in America amidst police brutality, and an uncertain political and economic climate.

Although this was written over 50 years ago, I realize that its relevancy and truth still permeates society’s norms, beliefs and expectations.  Injustice surrounds us all and the rules are not always the same depending on the color of your skin and the amount of money in your bank accounts. It’s as if Baldwin had a looking glass into the future because we still have a ways to go before equality becomes a way of life. And so for today, the struggle is still real.

This book is a must read by both men and women, young and old! Two thumbs up!

My favorite lines from the letter to his nephew:

“Take no one’s word for anything, including mine – but trust your experience. Know whence you came. If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.”

My favorite lines from the letter regarding the region in his mind:

“There are too many things we do not wish to know about ourselves. People are not, for example, terribly anxious to be equal (equal, after all, to what and to whom?) but they love the idea of being superior. And this human truth has an especially grinding force here, where identity is almost impossible to achieve and people are perpetually attempting to find their feet on the shifting sands of status.”

Rating: 5 stars


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