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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution II
(1968)

Killens, John Oliver
Editorial comment: the black writer and the revolution,   pp. 395-[400] PDF (6.0 MB)


Page 399

loneliness. It is obvious that he meant,
by this, to fence the rest of humanity out,
but what he has succeeded in doing is
fencing himself in. And now at this moment
in history, alas too late, he wants to
gather everybody into the old corral, with
himself as the great white rancher, and
brand every human L. B. J. But our black
vision is to tear the fences down.
It is time for some black writers, the
more the merrier, to move from social
protest to affirmation and revolution.
Every black writer worth his bread is a
revolutionary of sorts. Speaking for myself,
each time I sit down to the typewriter,
I'm out to rock the boat, to change the
world, to break the world down bit by bit
and forge it into something altogether new
and different, to create a new image and
new vision for mankind, which will
encompass, in the words of Margaret
Walker, "all the Adams and Eves and their
countless generations." Our black vision
for this country and the world is vastly
different from the white writer's vision, too
many of whom are the best that money
can buy. And they have been bought and
paid for. Believe it. Men who get fifty
thousand to a hundred thousand dollars a
year for writing such masterpieces as the
"Dodge Rebellion" and "Come alive, you're
in the Pepsi generation!" and "Is it true
that blondes have more fun than anybody?"
How can I relate to a writer like that,
who thinks he's writing serious literature?
Yes, it is the time for revolutionary writers!
To dramatize the revolution, the revolution
that hasn't even started yet. To glorify
the freedom fighters - of Detroit, and
Washington and Harlem and Watts and
Chicago. I personally am not, as yet, an
advocate of Burn, Baby, Burn. But I dig
the motivation of the valiant freedom
fighters - wherever they are.
Black writers will create a new vision for
man, a vision of love and life, as opposed
to hate and death. And now, let me make
it clear, that the question of love and
hate between black and white Americans,
is a total irrelevance, as far as I am
concerned. I neither need to hate the
white man or to love him. But white men
insist that you either hate them or love
them. They do not care which, as long as
you are so obsessed with them, you
don't have time to take care of the business
of black liberation. But love is a question
we will take up with Charlie three or four
hours after liberation. Nothwithstanding,
our long range vision is one of life and
love; a vision oriented to man, not to
things. Muntu. An African word meaning,
roughly, man. Man oriented. Man in the
center of the universe. Glorify man, not
automobiles, not jet airliners, not atomic
weapons. Yes, black writers must dramatize
against this ugliness which has seized the
world, where the most powerful nations
spend billions of dollars for moontrips and
weapons of destruction, while men starve
all over this earth in the very midst of
plenty. This is a perversion of human
energies, and black writers must scream
damnation down upon it.
In a real sense, colored peoples throughout
the world were sentenced by Western man
to centuries of silence. Now at this
historic moment it is time for us to
speak; to speak in vindication of every
human in this world who has been forced to
live the life of a "nigger," which will
mean, of course, that all mankind will at
last be vindicated. Everywhere Western
man went over the earth, "Christianizing"
and "civilizing," he made men into the
"niggers," the better to conquer and
exploit. And made men believe that they
were niggers. To deniggerize the earth is
the black writer's challenge.
It will be up to us, black revolutionary
writers, to reconstruct the history of the
last four hundred years, and this time
tell HOW THE WEST WAS REALLY WON.
No one will do our work for us. We must
carry forth the vision of Medgar, Malcolm
and Martin. Remembering in our hearts and
souls and minds, that everything before
was B.M. Everything from these days
forward is A.M. After Medgar, After Malcolm,
After Martin. Now we know for the first
time, what A.M. really means. After
Martin, and the morning of a new day
borning, that Great-Getting-Up-Morning,
when man has just begun to live. This
must be the monument we build for
the Messiahs. Black writers, let us begin
again. Recreate man in our own
black image.
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