tv Jelani Cobb and David Remnick The Matter of Black Lives CSPAN January 18, 2022 1:30am-2:01am EST
18 century. and then in the 19th century is ridiculous as far as i am concerned. they didn't have computers or cars there is a lot of ways that citizens could have had a lot more influence or opportunity in the democratic process of the united states. >> thank you for coming to today's talk on the matter of black lives. it collects almost one century of reporting profiles memoir
and criticism and i like to introduce my coeditor and colleague and friend who has been a staff writer since 2015 and writes frequently on race and politics and history and culture and is a renowned teacher of journalism at columbia university phd from rutgers and co- edited to write the introduction which was published this year we edited this book together. >> i think it's fair to say the new yorker try to do the ontology in the sixties this would be very slender indeed. >> it began is with james baldwin's famous speech so can
youde talk about the central place in your own reading? >> what i would say that we knew people were still working out from home. >> there was a dual-purpose. >> but it is so incredible and insightful and i can come back to that piece many times in the course of my life early on in college. so the fact that the new yorker sought to publish it
last summer in the midst of the turbulence of what was going on having spoke to that helped. >> badad it helped for me at least thinking about the substance to be in dialogue with baldwin and that it was possible. >> so talk about the origin story of the piece you write introduction. >> and the time they publish this 1962 contracted to write it before that but initially
supposed to write something about africa and the experience left him cold he could not find anything that was connecting him as a writer and at the same time a piece of harlem that was commentary to juggle multiple assignments with different publications and then an experience in africa more intensely with his identity as an american in. and then he writes this piece that redefines the parameters of the conversation about
race. and commentary has a jewel on their hands. when o it was just a classical decision. but then it appears in 1962 the new yorker did not run anything like that. but one of thei things i thought that was the most subversive and intriguing is that the new yorker tradition to divert those locales with
those correspondents and baldwin is writing in america which is just as complicated and fascinating and provocative of a distant locality and that is part of what made it an instant classic. >> ands to call things as they are, the new yorker hadyo not published that at all. it is not very uncommon that "the new york times" newsroom it was one long row.
and that is the lure of the avenue. all of these things that word compound the dangers of living in harlem. so that would contextualize elijah mohammed. ifhe not embodied and then to say this is why people feel this way and how he comes to the question and then a logical product of the world navigate.
>> so with those other pieces of anthology if it was written around the time of the million man march. how do you see farrakhan? how do you explain? and then compare it to the way that baldwin was assessing the nation of islam? and then writing in another essay. and with mlk that the negro leader has been in a position of telling white people to hurryy up while telling the
negroes to weight. and then to articulate that dilemma that this is a possibility and for farrakhan with the emergence in the eighties. and then on the other side of that. and then in those incipient reforms and then would be the despair of the hiv crisis is astounding amount of violence. overwhelmingly centered in black community so the skepticism of america is that
pieces in the book. and those to look back on that now? >> what is interesting about obama is that he was not the product of an immediate trauma there had not been a sympathetic communal recompense and then to emerge out of nowhere even if people study race of a political scientist and sociologist nobody was looking at american societysa to say we're at a moment to anticipate a breakthrough of this magnitude. he just showed up.
andup then upended so many expectations thinking there was nothing he could not do so him outside the superman museum and then you imagine maybe he can do something unprecedented. at the same time the gravity of everyday politics. it was to craft a very heavy-handed medical but if he could take fight but essentially there was a stalemate and that presidency denied to him and being called a liar and the address to congress. and then to have a supreme court justice.
and as a citizen of the united states. and in that context then to start to see the outlines and the contours of the political dynamic encountering. so i was writing that who is this person and what can we say about themo moment? >> the darkest interpretation why is a success. and it seems like a logical conclusion with barack obama was so complex is donald trump and all he came to represent
which was worse as time went by. do you accept that at the first black black president would be racist quick. >> yes. and at the risk of self quoting. [laughter] the first thing ever wrote for the new yorker which was about treyvon martin. with barack obama and the parameters of help. and with that rhetoric constantly criticized criticism anytime anybody disagreed you cannot call people racist but you could call them cynical and that is accessible political language
but that which it proves accurate and the most cynical interpretation at that moment is if there is a gigantic racial backslash and that proved to be right and then to defy every cynical expectation of race in america? yes. and that's how it became so complicated. >> you see some disappointment. do you share that are think that's depending on one person too much quick. >> because during the trump years and we can speak of
those years in retrospect now. >> some are still living in them and you don't know what happens 2024. but speaking of the trump years now i don't know what i was going to say. [laughter] and trying to describe the trump phenomenon and with that aspect of his politics and the republican party. nobody knows better than floridians. donald trump is part of a long legacy it is on and on.
i think maybe the way i think of it in terms of obama and trump that both of them is what american history is all about in the positive and negative sense but i cannot bring myself to see that otherwise. >> but there's something about the time and place that he comes from. because i am a native as is he. and we had talked about this he grew up in jamaica estates and i grew up in south jamaica. but that's the relationship
generation that circled the wagon and welcome mentality. and they don't share our values so is not at all angela your with american history. but observing where he went in american politics i recognize the language that he learned early on in life and it was a language for the rest of the country to catch up to immigration that manifested in the sixties and seventies and speaking a language he spoke all of his life that were newly enamored. >> and his father rand highly discriminatory but in
something so interesting raise has exuded a distorted effect all of it. not just a portion but the nature of the problem highlighted that is generally associatedra with a republican it is not an anthology but a broad fascinating set of events so talk about the degree to which that it distorts american lives. raised does not exist. >> it is a fantasy and then it
really is. and anyone that studies how far they have incredible power. and that is what happened here. and often with communities that are passed navigating these complexities. and then to talk about the american society and american democracy in the world but we don't generally reflect upon the fact of our elections to
be legitimate prior to 1965 going back to the twenties we could say even less because they could not vote in those elections either but it's only been since 1965 we've had free and fair elections and then around 15 percent of the population could not vote and knowing the results of the 1932. we really don't know what the results of those had been which is why culminating in a jh debacle was so astounding from the people who had any basically arity it was rigged but you don't have to go that
far back. >> and it was conceived in a time of crisis, more than usual so now 14 months has passed and when you look back at george floyd and the child that came out of that what do you think is the lasting effect that the flashpoints and what is ephemeral? >> what is lasting is that horrific images of george floyd suffering and calling out for the intervention of his deceased mother has
undermined the way and it till had never been forgettable for the generation of people exposed to that. >> so that has stayed in people'sle minds. but what i think is ephemeral. >> and we see at the beginning the indictment that is so shocking to see policing, which they almost never do and to denounce the actions on the right side of thesp political spectrum and then to have the cold-blooded murder in minnesota and in minneapolis but as time has gone on the idea is represented from a bigger reality or a bigger truth of
race has come under dispute and the conversation around critical race theory is an example of that. so for part of the summer the country was willing to reckon with what james. baldwin is putting on the table in 1962. and those in the publications among editors and elected officials to bring that back into the baseline. the finger-pointing andnd disagreement and where we are now.
>> looking at what's going on now january 6 how do we understand it just beyond the finger-pointing and screaming had we look at this through the lens? >> i don't really know. and then the thing about januarh at the moment is that combination of trump is him that it could be the harold in a more tumultuous area. but it isr potentially true.
worst-case scenario is that we look at this 30 or 50 years from now and yet another moment that reactionary forces arose in the attempt to stifle if not outright eradicate democracy in the united states. >> thank you to my coeditor it's the matter of black lives preaching everyone from jamie on —- james morrison destiny morrison and james baldwin. thank you everyone at the miami book fair for having us wr
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