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The Baldwin Prophecy

james-baldwin“The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success. He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael. All that noise is about America, as the dishonest custodian of black life and wealth; the blacks, especially males, in America; and the burning, buried American guilt; and sex and sexual roles and sexual panic; money, success and despair…”

From “Freaks and the American Ideal of Manhood.” Originally published in Playboy, 1985. It can now be found in Baldwin: Collected Essays (highly recommended).

From the same essay:

“Freaks are called freaks and are treated as they are treated–in the main, abominably–because they are human beings who cause to echo, deep within us, our most profound terrors and desires.”