The Wisdom of James Baldwin

“And a marvelous foreshadowing of the scapegoat role the black was to play in American life is contained in Peter Stuyvesant’s explanation of his surrender to the British. The city could not withstand the British siege, he explained, because three hundred slaves, brought in just before the British arrived in the harbor, had eaten all the surplus food. Scarcely any American politician has since improved on this extraordinarily convincing way of explaining American reverses.”

(From Baldwin’s Introduction to The Negro in New York: An Informal Social History, 1626-1940, edited by Roi Ottley and William J. Weatherby.)

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