Alas, we have not yet the power to render completely sterile or make impossible the errors and lies which will merely be America being itself rather than its unconvincing promise.
As a political artist, I think you have to learn how to create art, no matter what your ideology is.
I changed my name when we became aware of the African revolution and the whole question of our African roots.
Thought is more important than art. To revere art and have no understanding of the process that forces it into existence, is finally not even to understand what art is.
You have to start with slavery because those abuses have never been eradicated. You know, people are not living in slums because they voted to. You know, their children are not in jail because they wanted them to. You know, these are the results of a people who have been oppressed and suffer national oppression, you know.
The poet is someone, I think, who’s interested in registering experience immediately or giving you the sense of immediacy and directness.
Mao Zedong was a revolutionary. He made a revolution.
When I was saying, ‘White people go to hell,’ I never had trouble finding a publisher. But when I say, ‘Black and white unite and fight, destroy capitalism,’ then you suddenly become unreasonable.
I had just been in some repressive situations – the black middle-class college scene and the crazy United States Air Force – and so I just felt like getting out of that. I thought, now, that I wanted to be a writer. I had something that I wanted to do, that I was interested in doing, so I wanted to pursue that.
I’m fully conscious all the time that I’m an American Negro, because it’s part of my life. But I also know that if I want to say, ‘I see a bus full of people,’ I don’t have to say, ‘I am a Negro seeing a bus full of people.’