*I will go into these further later, but I wanted to update my blog with some fresh ideas, so that I don't forget them later.
What is social paranoia all about? Why does it exist in America? How is GTMTM (both a symptom) an examination of American life? What are some of the "unspoken laws" governing that American life?
My first reaction upon reading Baldwin's "Going to Meet the Man" was: This guy must have such a sense of self-hatred (or of the hatred of others) to be able to embody a monstrous character like the Sheriff in this story. Then I remembered that I have to depersonalize such strong emotions and figure out exactly what Baldwin was able to do to create such a strong reaction out of me... I'm going to be honest and guess that it was not very hard.
I also want to point out something I watched in my Intercultural Communications class today, that talked about people's ability to be racist and where learned attitudes originate, and I felt that it had a lot to do with Baldwin's story. One purpose that prejudice serves is the "Ego-Defensive Function", which is a way to discriminate against others as a defense mechanism--the same way a suppressed homosexual would become homophobic as a way to defend himself---as an inversion of love with hate. Ring any bells??
Perhaps Baldwin reversed this inversion in his ability to embody or to characterize the racist Sheriff. I am careful not to say that Baldwin was ACTUALLY racist and ashamed of himself and his blackness, because that really doesn't matter, and how would I even know?. I think it has something to do with it, however, and it shows that he was able to walk a careful line...
This is the video we watched in my Intercultural class, showing how easily prejudice is learned--because it IS learned! Observe nice little innocent children turn "nasty" with arbitrary hate for one another. This also fits in nicely to the origins of Young Sheriff, I think, to show how easily he was able to adopt his racist persona. The lesson here is: Be careful who your teacher is!! I'll post the first part of the video is here.
I'll finish up my ideas later, so until then, my post is...
TO BE CONTINUED!