Check out this important new issue published in the spring of 2023 of The Faulkner Journal, William Faulkner and the Work of Antiracism. Included is my article, “Baldwin, Individualism, and the Means of White Self-Empowerment.”
James Baldwin states in Nobody Knows my Name that what he observed white Americans did not seem to know about Europeans was also what they did not know about African Americans. Critics still look to Baldwin’s presentation of Faulkner’s personal, literary, and intellectual contradictions as the prototypical identity of white Americans in Baldwin’s famous essay “Faulkner and Desegregation.” Baldwin vividly realizes the still unrealized trauma inflicted upon the white American psyche by the institution of slavery in other works, offering Faulkner as an exemplary model. I suggest in this essay that an even more productive concept of the conditions of racism exists between Faulkner’s works and Baldwin’s other writings on national identity. I query how the distinct values of individualism, collectivism, and transnationalism affect racial empowerment in critiques between Baldwin and Faulkner. Furthermore, I demonstrate how Baldwin’s newly acquired European perspective has essential bearing on his critique of Faulkner’s brand of racism, allowing him to identify individualism and isolationism as inherently antithetical to the goals of personal freedom for all Americans.
Many thanks to Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman for being our guest editor, and to Ahmed Honeini and Peter Lurie. This issue features Dr. Abdur-Rahmen’s essay as well as an essay by Thadious M. Davis entitled, “Spaces of Remembering and Forgetting: On Antiracism.”