Ruben: What you write is true but not the whole truth. Look at the
letters from Latino and Black prisoners to me and from me to them in my
book, pp. 495, 499, and the rest of that chapter. The fact that a white
kid was born to a higher living standard than you were is not his fault,
and not necessarily his parents' fault. My son Bob, who went to
Mississippi in 1963 and 1964, was tried as one of the Oakland Seven for
attempting to shut down the Oakland Induction Center during Vietnam,
spent years in the GI coffee house movement, got toxicosis on a
warehouse job because he believed the future lay with the working class,
used his union membership to get a resolution passed to stop the
unloading of a South African cargo during apartheid, and a couple of
years ago was the teacher who proposed and organized the unprecedented
union-authorized teach-in for Mumia in the Oakland high schools, comes
from a family undoubtedly living better than yours did.
My daughter, the wife (now widow) and mother of longshoremen, did
similar things. My other son, not a very political person, nonetheless
showed up (as did my wife and I) that dawn on the San Francisco docks
and physically stood against the hood of a semi to prevent that South
African load from being moved.
We lived pretty well only because I, after being blacklisted out of my
profession by Sen. Joe McCarthy personally and two other witch-hunt
committees, was able to become a goddam good translator and earn
decently, although at the beginning I made dishwasher's wages. And if I,
during the tough years, was able to turn for survival money to my wife's
and my parents, it is because those immigrant parents, absolutely in the
classical tradition, took any kind of job there was and went to college
at night to acquire their professions. Incidentally, I don't have a
college education. I taught in universities on what I learned on my own.
There were even people from the very topmost stratum of wealth who
served jail terms during the witch-hunt years rather than be
stool-pigeons, Frederick Vanderbilt Field, for example.
So don't put down idealism and decency and courage, no matter what kind
of family an individual comes from, and what his/her ethnic or racial
origin. As to people changing their minds during a lifetime, yes, there
are those who sell out, and they come from the poor as well as the
prosperous or even rich. But there are also those who, like myself, find
that theories they believed in when younger turned out not to reflect
the real world, so sticking to them would condemn such individuals to
hollering into an echo chamber.
> From: "Blazing Star" <email@example.com>
> Subject: * True colors
Do you teach in the social sciences? Consider my SAYING NO TO POWER
(Creative Arts, Berkeley, 1999), for course use. It was written as a
social history of
the U.S. for the past three-quarters of a century through the eyes of a
observer in most progressive social movements (I'm 83), and of the USSR
standpoint of a Sovietologist (five earlier books) knowing that country
longer than any
other in the profession. Therefore it is also a history of the Cold War.
in The Black Scholar, American Studies in Scandinavia, San Francisco
forthcoming in Tikkun, etc.
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