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The Fire Next Time

            "White people [ ] have to accept and love themselves [ ] which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never." James Baldwin, author of The Fire Next Time, said this in reference to his thoughts on whites and blacks seeing each other as equals (12). He states that when whites learn to love and accept themselves, the "Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed" (12). To understand why he believes this, one must first know other concepts and beliefs of Baldwin. First off, Baldwin says that there was no such thing as a "Negro" before the whites invented it. Second, he thinks that whites do not love and respect themselves, therefore they cannot love or respect others. Also, Baldwin says that whites and blacks cannot be equals until they come to each other as lovers. Once these ideas of Baldwin, and of many other blacks in the early 1960's, are understood, then one is capable of knowing why Baldwin says this about the "Negro" problem.
             The first thing to look at is the fact that Baldwin says whites invented the "Negro". This statement is often argued by saying that there were black slaves in Africa, and other parts of the globe, many years before there were slaves in the United States. However, the difference is that the majority of the slaves in Africa were black, because that was the color majority in Africa. There were white slaves and free blacks in Africa. There, and in other places, one was a slave not due to the color of their skin, but because their tribe was captured or because they were sold into slavery. In the United States, all the slaves were black, because they were mostly all brought over from Africa. However, as time went on, Americans ignored the fact that the color of the skin of their slaves was due to where their slaves originally came from. The mistake made by Americans was that they made the skin color black synonymous with the word slave.

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