Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.

The Blacks was a white foreigner’s idea of a people he did not understand. Genet had superimposed the meanness and cruelty of his own people onto a race he had never known, a race already nearly doubled over carrying the white man’s burden of greed and guilt, and which at the same time toted its own insufficiency. I threw the manuscript into a closet, finished with Genet and his narrow little conclusions. Max

Three black men walked past us wearing airline uniforms, visored caps, white pants and jackets whose shoulders bristled with epaulettes. Black pilots? Black captains? It was 1962. In our country, the cradle of democracy, whose anthem boasted ‘the land of the free, the home of the brave,’ the only black men in our airports fueled planes, cleaned cabins, loaded food or were skycaps, racing the pavement for tips.

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