I wrote the following brief letter to a cousin, I imagine, somewhere around late 1992-93 when I still danced to Janet Jackson but had not yet learned to be entrepreneurial quite well enough. I assumed at the time that making money in America was a lot less involved with laws, ethics and morals than it is. But I assumed a lot of things in the early 90s. To wit:
These days, cousin, I am not at Xerox. One can only be masochistic for so long. Xerox self immolated in the workstation business. It was too much for my poor heart to bear. I couldn't stand Sun's arrogance and plus they wouldn't hire me, so I went to Pilot Software. I've been there since 90 building business information systems with thier proprietary multi-platform software. When we go public, I expect to make a small pile and open up a VAR. On the other hand I just might go live in Mexico and raise pigs or the Outback and play cowboy or Central America and help build Belize. It depends on fate.
As a writer, I exercise my privilege of literacy and my responsibility as a moral and critical thinker. I am hoping that digitization movement moves far and quick enough so that I don't have to order books by mail if and when I finally decide to blow this joint. It could lock me forever in a large metro. I find that prospect ugly. But moreover I have been encouraged by a writer named A. Sivanandan who is a Tamil to be a model in this country. He tells us that blacks and others in this country serve as great inspiration to peoples of developing nations who fear the McDonaldization of their traditions. Educated people in the Third World are scared to death not of Colin Powell and Dick Cheney but of Disney and NBC. They take heart when they see emerging blacks and latinos retain their own culture yet comfortably appropriate the gifts of modernity. But this is not, as you know, simple minded rebellion, but a constant creative process. Culture is not static. People must move it as times change. It's a daunting task to become a cultural worker and produce worthwhile artifacts of African American cultural experience, but sometimes I feel up to it. Especially when I can quell falsehoods about the 'hoods, I feel that I am contributing to a faithful rendition of my country in real time. Part of the task is easy, and that is just remaining true to myself and expressing my own flavor derived as it is from the real cultural traditions of my people.
Exercising privilege? Well you could see that I was deeply multicultural at the time.
Digitization movement. These days are a good time to look back at Negroponte's predictions. The digitization movement is nearly complete, awaiting as it does, a decent legal framework on literature as Google and Apple are likely to work out with Amazon or independently.
But my aim was to get out of big American cities. Having just moved out of New York to Boston, I found Boston to be too provincial - having no way to enjoy that for what it was and is, primarily because of my provocative cultural producer's angle.
The constant creative process was an overripe assumption as well. Instead, I had no idea how small-minded and self-absorbed multicultural cultural production was. It was and is a constant stabbing of a cultural stereotype in the back with a constant gripe that refused to be accommodated. In the end, I think all the multiculturalists truly desire is a well-documented cultural alignment with some primatives overrun by DWEMs with a kind of ahistorical privilege... ick. I'm even using wack terms to describe my own old wackness.
Culture is indeed not static, but the aims of multiculturalism are, which is why ultimately it requires a kind of cultural essentialism, an inviolate dogma. Of course, it needn't be consistent as an insurgent 'philosophy'. It is cultural terrorism. There are practically infinite ways to rebel but only a few good ways to lead. And understanding that multicultural insurgency would never lead fuels its permanent aspect in the US.
'My people' had to eventually broaden because there is no clique of black leadership which is self-sustaining. Nor of cultural leadership. Pshaw. But I still should try to party with Wynton...