You’re playing the game according to somebody else’s rules.


One of the great things about writing a book about Charles Dickens, is the side roads it leads you upon. In this case, stumbling into the writings of the novelist and poet, James Baldwin. Ever inspiring, I thought it would be good to share.

During a seven and a half hour public conversation in 1970, that eventually was transcribed into the book 'A Rap On Race', Baldwin talked about how real change becomes possible only when we change the cultural narrative.


Below are a number of quotes that begin to shed a light upon some possible ideas.


Then I started reading. I read everything I could get my hands on, murder mysteries, 'The Good Earth', everything. By the time I was thirteen I had read myself out of Harlem. There were two libraries in Harlem, and by the time I was thirteen I had read every book in both libraries and I had a card downtown for Forty-Second Street… What I had to do then was bring the two things together: the possibilities the books suggested and the impossibilities of the life around me… Dickens meant a lot to me, for example, because there was a rage in Dickens which was also in me… And Uncle Tom’s Cabin meant a lot to me because there was a rage in her which was somehow in me. Something I recognized without knowing what I recognised.
If you’re born into that situation, the nature of the trap is with your not even knowing it, acquiescing (accept something reluctantly without protest). You’ve been taught that you’re inferior so you act as though you’re inferior. And on the level that is very difficult to get at, you really believe it. And, of course, all the things you do to prove you’re not inferior only really prove you are. They boomerang…
You’re playing the game according to somebody else’s rules, and you can’t win until you understand the rules and step out of that particular game, which is not, after all, worth playing.
Once people know what they know, they make the unconscious assumption that they were born knowing what they know, and forget that they had to learn everything they know.