I am an invisible man.... I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see...
Ralph Ellison (b. 1914), U.S. author. The narrator, in Invisible Man, prologue (1952).
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is the greatest American novel. No other work of prose fiction speaks to the soul of this great nation than this book, written by an African American and scorned by African American activists, because he refused the term.
Ralph Ellison captured the urban, rural, white, black and brown hues as discretionary camouflage for the root humanity in every man.
James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones) joined the white liberal literary establishment in vilifying a black man who preferred the term Negro and demanded to be treated as an artist, a craftsman and human being rather than a celebrity with a big mouth.
If the Negro, or any other writer, is going to do what is expected of him, he's lost the battle before he takes the field. I suspect that all the agony that goes into writing is borne precisely because the writer longs for acceptance--but it must be acceptance on his own terms. Perhaps, though, this thing cuts both ways: the Negro novelist draws his blackness too tightly around him when he sits down to write--that's what the antiprotest critics believe--but perhaps the white reader draws his whiteness around himself when he sits down to read. He doesn't want to identify himself with Negro characters in terms of our immediate racial and social situation, though on the deeper human level identification can become compelling when the situation is revealed artistically. The white reader doesn't want to get too close, not even in an imaginary recreation of society. Negro writers have felt this, and it has led to much of our failure.
Too many books by Negro writers are addressed to a white audience. By doing this the authors run the risk of limiting themselves to the audience's presumptions of what a Negro is or should be; the tendency is to become involved in polemics, to plead the Negro's humanity. You know, many white people question that humanity, but I don't think that Negroes can afford to indulge in such a false issue. For us, the question should be, what are the specific forms of that humanity, and what in our background is worth preserving or abandoning. The Paris ReviewEllison knew he was more than a demographic, a victim, a celebrity, a mouth piece. He was a man in full. Invisible Men, the cop the teacher, the guy ( Dennis) selling the Sun Times at 79th & The Dan Ryan every day in any weather, the EMT who shows up and saves Granny, the guy at Wells Fargo saving your mortgage from disaster and the check out lady at Jewel who places your groceries in Heavy re-usable bag because you forgot yours are the same.
Donald Trump says he is for the Invisible Man - all of us.
Let's pray someone gives him Invisible Man, in some form, or at least the quote above,
The news media will Mau-mau Trump even if he turns ink into gold and go the way of James Baldwin, Leroi Jones and the white liberal ruling classes who are clamoring to end our democracy.
President Trump, I know you can not hear me, nor read me, but write the above quote every day - writing it makes you remember it.
If President Trump remembers Ellison's quote and his campaign mantra, America will become great.