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Jamaica Kincaid on James Baldwin: "Love is Something You Do"

Monday, April 14, 2014

James Baldwin James Baldwin (NPR)

"Every African-American household ought to have a complete collection of James Baldwin's work," says the novelist Jamaica Kincaid. In what would be his 90th year, James Baldwin is being recognized for his lasting impact as a writer and activist with a year-long celebration, kicking off with "James Baldwin, This Time!"The festival's curator Lawrence Weschler was joined by participants Jamaica Kincaid, author of See Now Then, and Rich Blint, Baldwin scholar and associate director of the Office of Community Outreach and Education for the School of the Arts at Columbia University, to talk about James Baldwin's life and work and his idea of love in a conversation about race.

→ EVENTS: James Baldwin, This Time! takes place April 23 - 27 at New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street in Chelsea.  Click through for ticket information.

The 1965 Baldwin-Buckley Debate

Guests:

Rich Blint, Jamaica Kincaid and Lawrence Weschler

Comments [21]

Native NYer from NY

Clearly Jamaica Kincaid's Brooklyn comment is directed to the obnoxious people who have moved here from the Midwest and West coast and gentrified the heck out of the borough. Yes, you all are obnoxious, arrogant, entitled, you've made Brooklyn less interesting and some of us wish you would go away. You will always stink of the wretched, homogenous little places that you moved from. You are not Brooklyn.

JK isn't losing her mind. Just because you don't like someone's ideas doesn't mean that they are mentally unbalanced. Accept that.

Apr. 27 2014 03:05 PM
Oyade

I have lived, worked, and revitalized my life and work by the words of James Baldwin for over 20 years. I have to agree with many of the comments below. As a long time listener to this show, Brian, why didn't you challenge Ms Kincaid on her remarks (as you would be obligated to challenge any other guest)? I realize that would take courage, but only courage can push this conversation somewhere NEW and transformative. In my reading of Baldwin and MLK for that matter (and I've read almost everything Baldwin published), the type of Love Baldwin writes of HAS to be inclusive of all human beings (including people who live in Brooklyn…ha!). That's why it is radical. You either believe the following statement all of the time, or you don't:

"No one is, or can be, the other: there is nothing in the other from the depths to the heights that is not to be found in me." - James Baldwin

Apr. 15 2014 01:08 PM
Tim from San Francisco

@tussy: "hard for white folks to hear these things when confronted with some unpleasant truths about this country, its history and some of its citizens" - that JK doesn't know "why anyone would want to be a white person" is not an "unpleasant truth" - its an ad hominem worthy of a streetcorner preacher. And your statement is wrong: you assume that "white folks" are some monumental tribe, when the truth is that most white folks have given up on tribalism. Thus it is harder to get them to all think similarly - which is a problem when it comes to a response to a history of racial animus (ironically), which thus becomes a more nuanced endeavour.

Apr. 14 2014 05:22 PM

@tussy26 - that is understandable, thanks for offering what [I can only hope] must have been J.K.'s intention with that comment

Apr. 14 2014 04:23 PM
Jennifer Jones

Geez, the one morning I choose to listen to classic Venetian violinist instead of the Brian Lehrer show - sounds like J.K. was too full of herself as to make [herself] sound a little cray-cray... too bad for her and for us...

Apr. 14 2014 04:17 PM
tussy26

Some of Ms. Kincaid's words were harsh however there was also a lot of truth to what the woman was saying. I know its sometimes hard for white folks to hear these things when confronted with some unpleasant truths about this country, its history and some of its citizens. Her comment on Brooklyn was very specific at least as i heard it to faux writers types who wear their residence in the borough on their sleeves.

Apr. 14 2014 02:22 PM
Tim Reeves from San Francisco, California

Brian - you could have questioned Ms. K's language in the end of the interview further -- I realize it took you off-guard, but come on, you're experienced enough. Bitterness wrapped in reverse-racism is still bitterness, and you just gave it a pulpit on your show, without critique. What a disappointment.

Apr. 14 2014 01:59 PM
Paul Thomas

We have just published a new volume on Baldwin:

James Baldwin: Challenging Authors

http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/james-baldwin-challenging-authors-sense-2014/

Apr. 14 2014 01:47 PM
David from Brooklyn

I have been watching Youtube videos of his speeches here and in the UK recently. This excites me to no end because I agree that the word genius is thrown about but is absolutely justified in regard to James Baldwin. SO SO smart and sensitive and passionate and morale and artistic and utterly unique. I look forward to attending these events

Apr. 14 2014 01:33 PM
Mark

Sorry all you Brooklyn people had to find out this way but...Brooklyn has become a corny cliche. I'm sure inside the Brooklyn bubble it seems like the coolest place ever but everyone else just rolls their eyes.

Apr. 14 2014 01:18 PM
keith from NYC

OMG.... what a pompous b. Not much LOVE in her words at all... and the comment about Brooklyn really sealed the deal. Who the hell does she think she is??

Apr. 14 2014 01:14 PM
a listener

[[drivetime
Rough going. I would hope the "Brooklyn" comment was narrowly meant as railing against hipster writers concerned with their own artistic lives at the expense of any wider social concerns or consciousness. Even so, Brooklyn comment tough to swallow. Apr. 14 2014 11:48 AM]]

Arrogant.

Apr. 14 2014 12:29 PM
Rufus

[["Every African-American household ought to have a complete collection of James Baldwin's work."]]

Meh! She's saying everything he wrote is of equal value? Improbable.

What every "African American" household ought to have is a library card.

You can't tell people they must like what you like. We can encourage young people to have open and curious minds.

Apr. 14 2014 12:25 PM

Rough going. I would hope the "Brooklyn" comment was narrowly meant as railing against hipster writers concerned with their own artistic lives at the expense of any wider social concerns or consciousness. Even so, Brooklyn comment tough to swallow.

Apr. 14 2014 11:48 AM

Blechh.

Apr. 14 2014 11:46 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

Jamaica Kincaid: self-righteous, alienating, over-rated. Waste of air time.

Apr. 14 2014 11:26 AM
Soso from NYC

"Why would any one want to read about being a white man?"
Did a guest actually say that on the public airwaves?!
Offensive - very.

Apr. 14 2014 11:25 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

"Why would anyone want to be a white person?" - Jamaica Kincaid on The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, 4/14/2014.

Counterproductive, pointless. Sounds like she's losing her mind.

Apr. 14 2014 11:25 AM
jan

They should recommend the excellent collection of Baldwin essays "The Price of the Ticket."

Apr. 14 2014 11:23 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

This segment is becoming a bit hard to take.

Apr. 14 2014 11:19 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Jamaica just called Brooklyn "some stupid place like that?" Shut her up and get her off the air. This is New York. No place for Brooklyn-haters.

Apr. 14 2014 11:13 AM

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