In “Down at the Cross”, James Baldwin stresses the idea that regardless of race or culture, people are human beings and should be treated equally. Baldwin criticizes racial issues. Baldwin talks about how whites and blacks don’t understand each other because both have insecurities, fears, and prejudices within their own culture that they can’t understand each other.

Baldwin proposes the idea that “people can renew themselves at the fountain of their own lives” (54). This process of renewal means that people of any culture or color may eventually find a path to understanding and cooperating with each by searching within themselves.

In “Communication in a Global Village”, Dean Barnlund believes that there is a problem with communication in society because people of different cultures can’t communicate with each other.

Barnlund criticizes that people tend to attach and associate with their own kind and do not want to branch out to learn and communicate with people of other cultures.

Barnlund believes that in order for society to flourish and succeed, people must appreciate other cultures and realize that expanding knowledge of other cultures will contribute to a wholesome life. Barnlund would say that the appreciation, interaction, and understanding of other cultures are the processes of “renewal”.

Robert Bellah believes that people isolate themselves from others. Bellah expresses how people tend to separate their “private” and “public” lives. He believes that this is a problem because if people keep their private life separate from public life, they will not lead a fulfilling life. Bellah believes that as private and public lifestyles interact with each other, together they create the essence of a nourishing and productive life.

Bellah takes different subjects and describes details from their lives about how they “renewed” themselves by relating their private life to their public life. All of the authors portray social criticisms, identify the problems, and propose solutions that find ways of renewal for an individual’s life.

Barnlund states, Access to the world view and the communicative style of other cultures may not only enlarge our own way of experiencing the world but enable us to maintain constructive relationships with societies that operate according to a different logic than our own. (66)

Barnlund believes that if people learn aspects of other cultures, people will be able to maintain associations and communications between different cultures within a society. The meaning of appreciation of other cultures is what Barnlund specifies as the survival of a global village.

Barnlund would say that Baldwin’s process of renewal might work, because comprehension of other cultures will bring people together and revitalize the differences between people. This would help explain a solution for discrimination and communication complications between Blacks and Whites in Baldwin’s essay.

I believe that acceptance and knowledge of cultures are essential in order for people to understand and respect each other. Barnlund states, What seems most critical is to find ways of gaining entrance into the assumptive world of another culture, to identify the norms that govern face-to-face relations, and to equip people to function within social systems that are foreign but no longer incomprehensible.

Without this kind of insight, people are condemned to remain outsiders. (63-64) This passage from Barnlund’s essay reestablishes the fact that learning and understanding other people relieve the tension amongst how others cope.

Baldwin would say that the path when whites begin to learn and understand Blacks, will eventually relieve the problems and intolerances between Blacks and Whites. I believe that if White or Blacks do not want to try to respect or learn from each other, then each race will become isolated and ignorant towards each other. Bellah describes how people tend to isolate themselves by trying to separate their private and public lives.

Bellah suggests that people should realize that their public and private lives interrelate with each other. Bellah writes about how each person eventually found a “renewal of their own lives” by the correspondence of their public and private life in his essay. In the case of Les Newman, his life became renewed when he found his place in the church.

Bellah states, “His church community has helped Les Newman find a language and a set of practices that have strengthened his marriage, aided him in dealing with his work situation, and given him a more coherent sense of self” (80). According to Baldwin’s essay, a part of Baldwin’s life was changed when he discovered his place in the church.

When Baldwin participated in church, he realized that some ideas of the church were corrupt and hypocritical. Baldwin states, “When we were told to love everybody, I had thought that meant everybody. But no. It applied only to those who believed as we did, and it did not apply to whites people at all” (53).

His experience in church helped realize his path for renewal of his life. He believes that Blacks and Whites need to get rid of all assumptions used to justify their own lives and open up to each other. Bellah refers to Parker Palmer’s idea that “in a healthy society the private and the public are not mutually exclusive, not in competition with each other.

They are, instead, two halves of a whole, two poles of a paradox. They work together dialectically, helping to create and nurture one another” (87). This quote explains how public and private lives are not considered as one but two separate lives they help each other out. For example, if an individual spends time playing an instrument and takes private lessons, this is considered to be his or her private life.

When an individual decides to take his or her private talent to participate in community concerts shows his or her private life working together to assist and influence a fulfilling public life. Baldwin would say that Whites and Blacks should stop isolating themselves by being preoccupied with their private life, including prejudices and assumptions.

Baldwin would say that Blacks and Whites should open up to the public world, which includes everyone, white or black. When Blacks and White’s public and private lives grow and cooperate together defines Baldwin’s process of renewal. Baldwin believes that racism was stemmed from the insecurities of white men, who turned to blacks as scapegoats for their own internal feelings of powerlessness.

These insecurities and weaknesses portray the problem that whites must love one another and understand each other first, in order for them to understand and respect the Blacks. Baldwin states, “White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this… The Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed” (44).

Baldwin states that what white people do not know about themselves, is what they do not know about Blacks. He explains that people’s own assumptions and attitudes are sometimes created unconsciously and “these attitudes, furthermore, though the person is usually unaware of it” (55).

Baldwin says that once a person is aware of their own attitudes and beliefs, Blacks and Whites will be able to communicate and understand each other. For example, Whites do not understand why Black people have so many prejudices and hatred against them.

On the other hand, Whites do not understand why they really have strong opinions and prejudices against Blacks. Barnlund says, The acts of human beings were found to spring from motives of which they aware often vaguely or completely unaware…When, through intensive analysis, they obtained some insight into these assumptions, they became free to develop other ways of seeing and acting which contributed to their greater flexibility in coping with reality.

This quote from Barnlund helps explains why Baldwin believes that Blacks and Whites are not aware of what they really know about each other. They are not awake to the fact why there are discrimination against each other.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

1 Comment

  1. Baldwin said profound, deeply insightful things, it is hard for me to believe that he would say something so superficial as “we were told love everybody…but not whites.” Baldwin was a conscious black writer, he knew that black people have been conditioned to hate themselves. And that loving black, had nothing to do with hating white. Only insecure white people and unconscious black people are concerning themselves with making sure white people are loved.

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