It’s a rainy, grey day in the Northeast region of the United States. The rain and the looming clouds seem to mirror the weariness of the hearts and minds of American citizens. No matter what color we are, no matter what creed, the pandemic and the electric currents of the current political state and this intense election have everyone feeling the pain and listlessness of this dark cultural hour.
I have been writing this column since March, following the news and the status of the pandemic while sharing thoughts and presenting social current affairs, and although I don’t want Stealth Isolation to end, I do desire an end to the distancing and the inability to sit in a public space. I miss going to the library, and breaking bread with friends in various restaurants and coffee shops. I miss the freedom of travel and the intellectual inspiration that can be gleaned from art exhibits, panels and readings. Maybe Stealth Isolation will live on after the pandemic is over, but this column is an expression of the quiet desperation that isolation can bring, combined with the beauty of technological advances that allow us to continue to connect, order books and share our thoughts with the world.
I received a book, “Dispatches from the Vanguard,” a few months ago. It is a collection of interviews conducted by writer Patrick A. Howell with thinkers such as Nikki Giovanni, Lesley Ann-Brown (whom I’ve interviewed for the AmNews), Imani Perry and Abiodun Oyewole on the global international Black arts movement.
Howell writes: “The vanguard of American and world culture is held in the metaphysical and very real hands of two American mythic figures. The first literally underwrites American society, a society that really exists only in the imagination, and is responsible for governing the lives of 320 million citizens drawn from around the world in a herefore successful social, cultural, and political experiment called ‘The United States of America.’”
The book goes on to talk about the position of the president and calls for Black artists and writers to share the contents of their perception of American reality and how it works to navigate the current administration and offer opportunities for their communities and fellow artists to continue the long tradition of Black social and cultural exploration.
I am not a political writer. I choose to stay close to home in my metaphysical imagination and balance groundedness by being aware, but it’s not always my place to share my opinion. I’d rather share the news and existence of the graceful expression of other Black people who have paved the way for me to write these very words.
“Dispatches from the Vanguard” is available for purchase online at Repeater Books or on Amazon.