social identities volume 9 number 2 2003 accessed 8

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Unformatted text preview: e void which Baldwin carried with him into and, subsequently, outside of the “friendship.” Baldwin’s condemnation of discourses that utilize exploitation and alienation’s grammar of suffering is unflinching: “I am afraid that most of the white people I have ever known impressed me as being in the grip of a weird nostalgia, dreaming of a vanished state of security and order, against which dream, unfailingly and unconsciously, they tested and very often lost their lives” (172). He is writing about the encounters between Blacks and Whites in Paris and New York in the 1950s, but he may as well be writing about the 18th century encounters between Slaves and the rhetoric of new republics like revolutionary France and America (Dorsey 354-359). Early in the essay, Baldwin puts his finger on the nature of the impasse which allows the Black to catalyze White-to-White thought, without risking a White-toBlack encounter: “There is a difference,” he writes, “between Norman and mysel...
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