Tag Archives: James McBride

Importance of voice

i spent a lot of the time in my head. my inner monologue could rival prince hamlet. so when i write my thoughts, and emotions pour out so much it hard NOT to see my voice. In my writing it is quintessential that every word flows into the next, like a paper airplane through the the air, straight & to the point yet impactful, or calmingly guiding you to the end goal like floating on a river feeling every molecule of water connect with your being.

High school vs College

I wrote that high school was a prison with walls made of rules and guidelines that must be followed obediently, while everyone is looking at you; its a factory line implanting information hour after hour to spit out obedient robots into the world.

College, on the other hand, feels like freedom regained (thanks Milton for the inspiration). Yes there are still deadline and guidelines that we are taught, but we’re told to go and find the answer. Find the answers other have found and compare them to yours.

“you’re given the reins to your own education/knowledge”


I don’t recall what ChatGPT said but I’m sure I can recreate it instantly. The answer it gave last Thursday is the same as today, and it will be the same until education changes fundamentally.
That’s the one major importance…the fact that if you ask me this question next month the same meaning will be there but it wont be express exactly the same. my voice, like the wind, ever dependent on varying areas of pressure, changes and moves in different directions. Some thing this AI could never hope (if it could ever be programed to hope, hope is the epitome of human emotions) to mimic me.

Mr. McBride I used to sell your books.

That may sound like I was walking the streets, selling books to anyone interested in a lil knowledge trip… but I used to work at a bookstore [it’s commonly known, its name a homage to farm life and nobility]. One of my daily tasks was to access the company’s HUB of upcoming books and bestsellers. When Deacon King Kong was released i read its synopses and did my duty, selling copies with vague understandings of what was actually written. Call me cynical, but not much is needed for a 10 min max interaction with a customer who needs to be persuaded one way or another.

Mr.Mcbride you said that being cynical creates negative work and one who is cynical cannot be a creative writer. Does this you mean you see less value in cynical works regardless of their outcomes?

I personally find cynicism to be a great way to prompt the philosophical question… why?

Who is James McBride and what does he do?

James McBride is a 65-year-old Black American writer and musician. His story is that he grew up in a housing project with eleven siblings and his white Jewish mother. “‘Emphasize The Positive’: James McBride On The Kindness That Shaped Him” is a short yet insightful view into what this man is about. In this, he tells the story of his childhood growing up in a community where people came together and created a sense of being in a village. This life story of his is the major influence and inspiration for his novel ‘Deacon King Kong’, with the setting being a housing project similar to his childhood one.

James McBride’s story is one that is unfortunately not unique to him. Many black people in America have had to grow up in poverty due to racism and capitalism. Those in poverty, of working class, etc., haven’t had the privilege of living in a normal sized house that was fresh and clean, wasn’t filled to the brim with lead, didn’t cost too much, and that they could afford. There is something to be said about how James was able to grow up in a black community despite his black dad dying before his birth and him being predominantly raised by his white mother. About how his mother, despite being white, was welcomed into the community and treated as one of their own.

“There was an innocence to that period. And the reason why I use that word was because when white people talk about the ’60s and the Beatles, they always talk about the innocence as if innocence didn’t exist in black America.” He sums it up perfectly. With the assassinations of MLK JR. and Malcolm X, the civil rights movement took a huge moral hit, and the lack of racial equity and equality the existed already means that white people were going to view black people in much more racist ways. James’s own mother, despite not talking about her whiteness with her son, did make sure that he did good because she knew that people would view him through the lens of him being a black boy. Blackness affects everything we do no matter what, and in a racist society of the 70s, it was a serious problem if a black child was caught making even a minor mistake.

Some questions I have after listening to the 28 min podcast and reading the article pertains to his sentences on the police and his comments about how we in the present should deal with the lingering statues of confederates. In the article, which was published on March 9th 2020, he states his belief that the narrative that dehumanizes policemen is dangerous. He says that most cops are good, they aren’t paid well, and that they aren’t respected or treated well. Which, as another black person in America, I cannot agree with this in good taste at all. Police are one of the most powerful individuals in this state. Out of all legal forces, I can’t think of one that is more respected, more well paid/financed, and more well off than the police. Just in the last few years they’ve been given whose knows how much money as a department alone. According to this page on statistica.com and this police budget breakdown system on costofpolice.org, we can see that the US spends more money on policing than it does on overall community resources. And considering that Cop City is officially a thing, I definitely don’t think caring about the humanity of police of all people is a constructive focus. One thing that I agree with James on is that we should focus on education for children. Free and accessible education for children brings them up properly and influences them to pursue progressive and better opportunities.

I am also a little, for a lack of a better word, confused and weirded out over how he refers to Mary Chestnut, the wife of a confederate commander. She as a white person who married a confederate and had black servants in the household is referred to by James McBride as a good person in the podcast. While it’s one thing for her to be referred to as an interesting person, no one that takes part in any form of white supremacy, even simply by marrying a white supremacist, is anywhere close to being a good person. I also listened to him talk about how he never thought much about the confederate statues earlier in life. He said that he and others just walked past confederate flags and the people holding them up. I wonder just how much the political and social environment he was raised in socialized them to see these things as just something to accept. I always found it important to analyze and learn exactly why these things are allowed to be waved around in society, why is it acceptable in an nation of “freedom and the brave” to openly celebrate white supremacy and chattel slavery and why should we just simply walk by it and not fight against it completely?

Learning about James McBride was an interesting and eye-opening experience. It was important for me to learn about a black musician’s/writer’s journey in life and what he finds important. Looking at his observations and comments, I see what he finds important and what he has grown to believe over time. And while I find him an interesting person, it is obvious that he is from an older generation, and that this fact has a lot to do with what he finds important and what he believes in. I believe that what he has learned from in his life and how that is reflected in these two interviews can teach us what a lot of people can share and what a lot of people still need to learn about.