James Baldwin is one of my favorite all time authors. His works embodied what it was like to be a struggling black person in America and every now and again his works embodied the soul and struggle of homosexual men. He often portrayed the harder side of life and people learned and gained perspective from his plays, poems, essays, and novels. There’s a side of Mr. Baldwin that people over look from time to time. They over look the fact that Mr. Baldwin was a great orator and said some amazingly brilliant things. In my opinion James Baldwin is one the greatest American authors to have graced this soil.
One of the greatest things Baldwin said was in the introduction to his KQED documentary, Take This Hammer. The documentary itself focuses on James Baldwin as he travels around San Francisco in 1963 discussing with a few members of the black community in San Francisco the struggle of a black person in that era. In the introduction though he discusses how people project their opinion of themselves on others. He states in more or less words that the nasty names we call people are the names in which we feel we are.
This was only a theory at the time James Baldwin made this assessment. However, since 1963 studies have shown that people actually do do this. Studies claim that people who are the most homophobic or racist have an attraction to the same sex, for homophobic, or other races, for racist. People don’t really understand why we project our negative feelings about ourselves on each other but they have determined it is a coping mechanism we use to make us feel good about ourselves.
There’s another funny thing about this realization, we see it everyday and we don’t even realize it. If you watch, listen, or follow politics any other way you would know that a lot of politicians and pundits are constantly calling each other names. With these studies in mind you have to think to yourself if these people are really giving an opinion of somebody or the opinion of themselves. We hear often Rush Limbaugh calling somebody an awful or criticizing some one harshly. So when we hear him speak is he speaking of himself or the actually person he’s criticizing.
On a serious side of this study many American kids are being bullied. Whether they are being bullied for their faith, sexual orientation, or just because of their appearance. Now this may not be directly related but another study showed that people often project negative emotions on others who have traits they wish they had. So when a kid in school is bullied and called a nerd his bullies probably wish they had the intelligence and wits of the person being bullied. However, when bullying goes on in schools it can either go to far or a bullied kid may not know how to handle the situation well and it may lead to very negative incidents that can be avoided.
As adults and well educated ones at that we need to come together and put the pettiness behind us. We need to stop building walls between us and start tearing walls down. If we put things past us the children may be able to get out of this economic turmoil we’re in now.