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William C. Altreuter
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Friday, January 10, 2014

So long, Amiri Baraka. I used to think it was hilarious that for a long time his name appeared on the covers of his books as "Amiri Baraka (LeRoy Jones)", as though it was pronounced with finger parentheses. Now that seems to me to have been sorta racist. If you tried finger parens with Mohammad Ali (Cassius Clay), you'd be begging for an ass-kicking, and I wonder why Baraka tolerated it.

“Somebody Blew Up America” is probably the poem that he will be remembered by, and although I think it was wrong-headed and hateful I get it, I think. I'm a privileged middle aged white guy, and if I didn't feel a little ashamed of that I'd be the one who was mistaken. Baraka was one of the guys who helped me understand that.

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