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tv   Jelani Cobb and David Remnick The Matter of Black Lives  CSPAN  January 17, 2022 10:30pm-11:01pm EST

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survey from prior years. book sales were up close to 9 percent in 2021 over the previous year when he hundred 25 million books sold. adult nonfiction sales rose from the second consecutive year following an 8 percent jump 2020. booktv will continue to bring you new programs and publishing news and you can also watch all programs any time that >> hi everyone i am from the new yorker thank you for coming to today's talk called the matter of black lives. ads which collects almost a century of reporting profiles memoir and criticism fromm the magazine. my oduce coeditor, my colleague and friend who has been at the new yorkerer since 2015 and writes
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frequently on race and politics and history and culture. a renowned teacher and journalist at columbia university withsm his phd from records and history and co- edited which was published this year. we edited this book together. >> it's fair to say the new yorker try to have such an anthology in the sixties it would be very slender indeed. >> it begins with james baldwin the piece that was known but maybe talk about why it begins in the central place in your own reading. >> the other thing i would say
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is that we know people working from home so to assist you can read and work out with it. [laughter] with a dual purpose. >> the baldwin piece is so incredible and so insightful. and to come back to that piece when i first read that early on in college. and the fact that the new yorker saw fit to publish that last summer with the turbulence in the come up going on, that spoke just how timeless that piece is.
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and it also helps that on tuesday nights when we would talk. >> and then to start thinking of those pieces in dialogue with baldwin. that was a lens that was possible. >> and then to talk over the originan piece. >> that is the time when he published it but he was contracted to write it before that. and initially with those travel untouchables in africa.
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and then like many freelancers has juggled for different publications. and then to be more intensely curious of his identity as americans. and that essay that redefines the parameters of the conversation around race. and commentary has a jewel on their hands if they ever got their hands on it.
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but then to fulfill that contract potentially. [laughter] we talked about the new yorker pays better. [laughter] but it wa a kind of practical decision. and then the new yorker had not run anything like that. and what is the most intriguing that having letters from diverseof geographic locales and then to write all over the globe and baldwin's writings in america.
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and that is just as complicated and fascinating and provocative that is part of what made it a classic. >> and then to call things as they are. with those american publications. and it's very interesting also the editor was infuriated by baldwin's decisions.
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>> there on —- euro quite a piece not long on —- not long after the publication. but the piece itself with the inner life o james baldwin but also of possible pads is the founder of - - a path going back to his church where he grew up and he seems to be indicating certain potential pathways for protest. >> and one of the things they told me when i was very young maybe 23 or 24, writing in the
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first person is only defensible i if you can navigate that experience out into a more universal understanding. and adolescence is when we begin to map out the path our lives will take. and then and then to compound the danger and some people's
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lives. so what he does in the course of telling this long autobiographical preface is to contextualize the life of mohammed. and can understand that militancy in the radicalism and the content of white people and then to say this is why people feel this way but how he comes to the question and mohammed is an illogical product of the world. >> one of the pieces of the anthology is how gates is profile. and right on time of the million manan march.
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how do wear see sarah? and with then nation of islam 1962.t so baldwin andnd is writing in the midst of a civil rights movement. and with a long profile. and then telling white people to her yet but the negroes to wait. [laughter] that he is articulating that dilemma and that this is a possibility but there is that
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anger that they represent. and then part of the influence in the nineties and there is no burgeoning movement for those incipient reforms that will change things. and that astounding amounts of violence. and then with the black and brown communities. but the farrakhan skepticism of america and then see? i toldd you. and then where that captures him is almost like a map in
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that moment of history. and toni morrison is represented a few times that you yourself are represented. and it came to my attention. and then about what this book could be post obama during the george floyd era. when you first encountered obama as a presence, what were your hopes and to what degree
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where they dashed? >> the thing that is obama is that there was no precedent not product of immediate trauma. and with that sympathetic recompense. and even those who study race and sociologist and historians nobody was looking at the american society and say were at a moment where we can anticipate a breakthrough of this magnitude. and then this idea that there's nothing he could not do.
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>> and then you imagine unprecedented and at the same time be glad of everyday politics. and then he could see the gravity but there was a stalemate there. and then to be called the liar in the midst of a joint address too congress. and then the possibility of the supreme court hostages and then to prove he was actually a citizen of the united states. and in that context especially that pieceal in 2012 when we
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were past the euphoria of them being elected. of that political dynamic they were encountering and so i was writing that so what can we say about this moment? >> . >> and then it seems like a logical conclusion to draw up a logical conclusion with barack obama is donald trump and what he came to represent. >> do you accept that is a logical outcome?
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>>? yes. and really the first thing of the new yorker barack obama. and the parameters of hope. and in that political rhetoric constantly criticized cynicism and anytime anybody disagreed if they were skeptical you cannot call people racist but you could call than senegal. and then to prove accurate. and then with a consequence of
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an existing and that proved to be right. and then to defy that cynical expectation of race in america, yes. yes. that's why became so complicated. >> he sees some disappointment on the political scene. >> isat that depending on one person too much quick. >> it's not a matter of depending on one personec too much but during the trump years. >> and then you don't know what will happen in 2024.
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but speaking of the trump yearss. >> i'm right now about the piece end of the politics and republican party right now and nobody knows better how this is working in the ways. and after that long legacy of that construction and maybe
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the way in terms of obama and trump to fit both of them. and a mask of what american history and being an american is all about with the positive and deeply negative d sense. >> and there is something particular about the time and place that trump comeses from. growing up in to communities she grew up in a place called jamaica she on —- i grew up in south jamaica. >> and then a generation older
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than me. and in 1965 immigration reform act. and those in new york city. and from those ideals which is the wealth the uppercrust area of queens. and when tha changeover happened in a short period of time it went from astoundingly white to the multicultural united nations from new york city and with that mentality where they from? they don't share ourg values.
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it is not at all unfamiliar in american history. so where he went in american politics recognized he was speaking a language that he learned early on inon life. and it took some time for the rest of the country to catch up to immigration that manifested in queens in the 1960s and seventies. speaking a language he spoke all of his life and was enamored. >> his father ran highly discriminatory my great grandmother lived in a lower middle-class housing and something so interesting and eloquent and has a profound
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life. on american and then the nature of the problem to be highlighted ensures it is generally associated this is not an anthology but a broad set of events. so talk about the degree to which race as we discuss it destroys american lives? because mutual acquaintances race does not exist certainly at that biological level. >> sure. when it was deemed man's most dangerous myth that the 20th
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century and it really is anyone that wants to study literature or folklore to shape our realities and that is what happened here. and we often have communities that don't understand those complexities and associated with the entire country. so when we think about the american society or american democracy in the world but we don't generally reflect upon the fact prior to 1965 going back to 1920 that's even less
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and then white women can vote in those election that only since 1965 we've had free and fair elections. and then to know the results of the 1932 or 48. and those results of everyone wants to vote. and with the uproar in 2020. and is so astounding to view people who have any basics entirety with american history. you really don't have to go that far back. >> this book was conceived in a time more than usual and now
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14 months has passed. looking back at themo george floyd moment. what is the lasting effect of this historical flashpoint? >>nk i think what is lasting what i think that horrific image of george floyd suffering of that intervention of his deceased mother and that is in my mind the way and it until has never been forgettable for a generation of people exposed to that. >> that has stayed in people's
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minds. but what is the femoral with unanimity that we see in the beginning this indictment that so shocking to see the police union come out which they almost never do. and of the o political spectrum it is indefensible. but as time has gone on. and then with a statement about the bigger truth. and then that critical race
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period calling critical race theory is anth example of that. and then to reckon with. and lott 1962. and those various other communities and the publication among the editors and elected officials. and that fell back into a baseline and then finger-pointing and disagreement and distant you annuity. >> and look at the political argument is going on now january 6, where do you expect that to come out. and then beyond just pointing and screaming and yelling?
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>> i don't really know. but i fear that we will look at it in the way that in 1877 which was the end of reconstruction and a retreat that conversation for january 5h thinks of it as a culmination even a more tumultuous area and we don't know where we are if that's true or not but it's potentially true so the worst-case scenario and 20 or 3040 years from now is another moment reactionary forces
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arose in the attempt to stifle to eradicate demography.y >> thank you. the book is the matter of black lives from toni morrison to james baldwin to a lot of artist that you read in the magazine every week. we are proud of those writers. thank you everyone at the miami book fair for having us. we hope to see you soon.
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