Interview with Amiri Baraka

Do you think that those negative images, though, had an effect on the way we saw ourselves?


Well there's no doubt they would given that, in terms of the negative imagery, that it'd have an effect on us. There's no doubt that it does have some effect in the sense that it begins to, um, you see a parameter, a limit, you see what the society wants to make you. But usually in terms of those of us who, the great majority of Black people, I think that the great majority of us always knew that that was somebody else's limitation on us. I don't think we totally, I mean the ones who actually thought that they were those characters, we see them in public office and whatnot, those negroes with their little, you know, weak hearted, scary acting negroes. We can see them in our lives and they're a minority, and they've always been a minority. I mean most Black people saw that and always stood away from it and knew that that was um, people who didn't like us trying to make fun of us. Certainly if I didn't know it from just my perception, my parents and grandparents kept up a steady line of rap about it. There was no way you could get away from the dinner table and not know about everything that was going on that, White folks was trying to do to you because they would be running it down, they were not just sitting there passive, now.