By releasing it from its original context, it becomes apparent how universal James Baldwin's articulation of the problem of identity is. Raw, timeless and uncannily familiar.
In the case of -- -------- ----- born in that glittering republic. And at the moment you are born, since you don’t know any better, every stick and stone and every face is ----- and since you have not yet seen a mirror, you suppose that you are too. It comes as a great shock around the age of five or six or seven to discover that the flag to which you have pledged allegiance, along with everybody else, has not pledged allegiance to you. It comes as a great shock to discover that Gary Cooper killing off the Indians, when you were rooting for Gary Cooper, that the Indians were you. It comes as a great shock to discover that the country which is your birthplace and to which you owe your life and your identity, has not, in its whole system of reality, evolved any place for you. The disaffection, the demoralization, and the gap between one person and another only on the basis of --- ----- -- ----- ---- begins there and accelerates. Accelerates throughout a whole lifetime up to the present when you realize that you’re thirty and are having a terrible time managing to trust your countrymen. By the time you are thirty, you have been through a certain kind of mill. And the most serious effect of the mill you have been through is, again, not the catalog of disaster—the policemen, the taxi drivers, the waiters, the landlady, the landlord, the banks, the insurance companies, the millions of details, twenty four hours of every day, which spell out to you that you are a worthless human being. It is not that. It’s by that time you’ve begun to see it happening in your daughter or your son or your niece or your nephew, you are thirty by now, and nothing you have done has helped you to escape the trap. But what is worse than that is that nothing you have done, and as far as you can tell, nothing you can do, will save your son or your daughter from meeting the same disaster and not impossibly coming to the same end.