Atlantic Unbound | Interviews | 2004.02.27

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

Getting Over Race interviews “Debra Dickerson, the author of The End of Blackness, on why she thinks the African-American community needs to grow up“:

So I went to that neglected shelf of books and read. I read The Souls of Black Folk in its entirety instead of those excerpts that you get in college. I read The Miseducation of the Negro and I read a lot of Frederick Douglass. I read the collected speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., and I read Malcolm X.

Before, I had assumed all of those books were very eloquent denunciations of white racism. But when you actually read those books you find that they spend very little time talking about white people. [...] Their thinking was so much more elevated than what our leaders are putting out there today. I felt so robbed, so lied to, so bamboozled — and not by the people I thought had been bamboozling me. I’d been lied to about my moral and intellectual traditions. I had been led to think that The Miseducation of the Negro was about how white people had miseducated us. But that’s not what it’s about. Those books are really about communal critique. DuBois and Carter G. Woodson — these guys faced lynchings just for being who they were at the time, but here they were talking not about white people, but about what the standards of our community should be!

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