Someone below noted the influence of Andrew on my thinking. I get that a lot--but mostly from people scared that I will leave my family, marry a white woman named "Katie" (or some such), move to New England and start bashing poor people. That doesn't sound so bad to me. Unfortunately, a significant source of my writing is Kenyatta and her big chess club brain. The boy is generally OK too, as long as he's not asking me to clothe or feed him. I guess that rules Katie out. Damn. Oh well, there's still time to head to New England and rail against the underclass. I really need to start taking my career seriously.
Sarcasm aside, the fact is that Sullivan, and Fallows for that matter, have come up a little different than me, and have seen a little more. The temptation to sit back and absorb is tough to counter--especially when you're trying to get to New England. I don't short-change myself one bit (Indeed, Kenyatta would plead the opposite) but being here has clarified what I've learned so far, and what I've missed.
One thing that I've missed is the way in which Christianity informs American political thought, and particularly African-American political thought. I was raised well outside the church, and the thus the Christian aspect of black leadership--the religiosity, the sense that God will someday make everything right, the role of heaven in aspirations--always seemed bizarre to me. I was a Malcolmite--I believed in the necessity of the black man remaking the world, of "by any means necessary, of "too much singing and too little swinging." I came across this quote some months ago from a black soldier which sent shivers down my spine:
I was very eager to become a soldier, in order to prove by my feeble efforts the black man's rights to untrammeled manhood.
Untrammeled Manhood. That's what I believed in, and confronted with the essentially conservative/reformist history of black leadership (as opposed to radical/revolutionary,) confronted with lawsuits, marches and pickets, instead of gun clubs, vigilantism and hand grenades, I was left seething.