It's dystopian fiction by a Korean immigrant to America, documenting a future unburdened by the chaos caused by white privilege; it's a society that has completely collapsed.
|A novel by a Korean immigrant, documenting the dystopian future of a non-white America (set in a city - Baltimore - where that future has already come to pass) Book Two in the SBPDL book club|
But before we get into the plot, let's talk about a city where blacks have organized to lobby on behalf of exclusively black police (Vanguard Justice Society) and to promote the collective interests of only black firefighters (Vulcan Blazers). Perhaps Walter Williams can do us justice [Racial Hoaxes and the NAACP, Creators.com, 12-12-2007]:
Last May, firefighters at a Baltimore, Md., fire station came under scrutiny for displaying a deer with an afro wig, gold tooth, gold chain and a cigarette hanging from its mouth.
Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP, went ballistic, charging, "There is now and has been a culture of racism and white supremacy within the Baltimore City Fire Department."
As it turns out, it was a black fireman who dressed up the critter. Cheatham refused to apologize for his accusations of fire department racism, maintaining "there is now and has been a culture of racism and white supremacy within the Baltimore City Fire Department."
On Nov. 21, a hangman's noose was found at the fire station with a note, "We can't hang the cheaters, but we can hang the failures. No EMT-1, NO JOB." The noose and note turned up on the heels of an investigation into allegations of cheating on the test that emergency medical technicians must take for certification.
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, a black, in a written statement said, "I am outraged by this deplorable act of hatred and intimidation. Threats and racial attacks are unacceptable anywhere, especially in a firehouse." Doc Cheatham said, "We're going to demand that this be handled as a hate crime. This thing really needs to end here in Baltimore city." The incident prompted a federal investigation.
Last week, Donald Maynard, a black firefighter-paramedic, confessed to having placed the noose, note and drawing depicting a lynching on a bunk in the firehouse.
City officials said Maynard was recently suspended, prior to his confession, from the department Friday for failing to meet requirements for advanced life-saving training. A spokesman for Mayor Dixon said there would be no criminal charges filed.
In response to Maynard's confession, NAACP President Cheatham still blamed white racism, saying, "It really saddens us to hear that evidently things have reached a stage that even an African-American does an injustice to himself and his own people as a result of a negative culture in that department."For those wondering, it's SBPDLs contention the black population (be it criminal, elected official, or proud member of the Vanguard Justice Society or Vulcan Blazers) of Baltimore represent the absolute worst concentrated black population in America. The late Lawrence Auster seemed to agree.
|The lasting contribution of black people to Baltimore: supplying make-shift vigils to victims of spontaneous blackness (what is commonly labeled black-on-black crime)|
The promotion of black power via politics (as state policy) equates to the equivalent of an electromagnetic pulse being detonated over the city/state/nation where this idea is loudly, proudly, and vividly expressed -- after all the major airport in Baltimore is named after the first black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, who famously said about racial discrimination, "You guys have been practicing discrimination for years, now it's our turn."
Funny: when whites advance white power/supremacy as a policy of the state, we got to the moon; the repudiation of such a policy and the implementation of black power/supremacy in cities like Baltimore and Detroit brought about scenarios no horror/science-fiction writer could ever hope to replicate.
Chang-rae Lee is attempting to take a stab though at a less-than-utopian view of post-white America, set in a city overflowing with shouts of black pride and black power, Baltimore. [A novelist’s view of a future dystopian “B-mor”: How Chang-rae Lee imagines America hundreds of years from now – kind of like the Baltimore of today, Baltimore Brew, 1-7-14]:
Baltimore’s vacant rowhouses have spawned lawsuits, catchily-named mayoral initiatives, slumlord-shaming projects (that have landed their arch perpetrator in court and, most recently, in The Wall Street Journal) and, for the people who live near them, a day-to-day headache in the form of trash, rats and crime.
Now they have inspired a sprawling dystopian novel that is the literary darling of the new year: On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee.
Lee has said he got the idea while riding on Amtrak trains between D.C. and New York and seeing the bombed-out-looking landscape of East Baltimore.
In his book set hundreds of years in the future, the U.S. government has collapsed, the population dispersed, and immigrant workers largely from China have come to labor in the former Baltimore, now named B-mor.
The kind of deserted areas Lee saw through the train window are re-purposed here for the production of fish and organic vegetables for the spoiled and indifferent elites called “Charters.”
The continent once known as China has been rendered unlivable by pollution in Lee’s 352-page epic. In B-mor, along with these onetime Chinese villagers and their snooty Charter overlords, are the wild and banished dwellers in the “Outer Counties.”
Upending our current class landscape, the book casts places like the today’s Harford County and chi-chi Columbia as the territory of hard-scrabble bands of outlaws.
Lee, a frequent train rider apparently, hit upon the idea in a kind of epiphany one day looking down out of the window at “the same ghetto neighborhood of East Baltimore” he’d passed over for the last 35 years, he said in a Q&A with NPR’s Rachel Martin:
And separately I thought, you know, it’s just a pity that this neighborhood has been abandoned and rehabitated and abandoned again, serially over all these years, and I thought, why can’t just some — I don’t know — village from China settle this place, and I was just idly thinking that, and I thought, oh gee, well what would happen if such a thing happened? What a crazy, crazy idea!
The book doesn’t seem to have too much literal connection to the Baltimore of 2014, other than the general post-apocalyptic look of our 16,000-plus vacant houses.
There are African-American characters (the heroine is Chinese and her boyfriend is black), and it makes some references to our current streetscape:
But hold on, you might say. On our street, once called North Milton Avenue and renamed Longevity Way by our predecessors, who saw the nearly three-kilometer run of ruler-straight road and couldn’t help but think of wondrously extended, if not eternal, life, the main infractions are spitting or littering or publicly relieving oneself, most always perpetrated by the very old and very young and those who overindulge on nights before their free-day.
Through a Train Window
Lee is not the first creative to cruise through Baltimore on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and come up with a good idea.
Singer-songwriter Randy Newman said he got the idea for his song “Baltimore,” from the same train-rider’s-view of East Baltimore, obviously just as depressing and vacant-looking in the 1970s as it is today judging by his dirge-like lyrics.
Hooker on the corner Waitin’ for a train Drunk lyin’ on the sidewalk Sleepin’ in the rain'Cause the city's dyin'; And they don't know why... oh, we at SBPDL know why Baltimore died.
And they hide their faces And they hide their eyes ‘Cause the city’s dyin’ And they don’t know why
Four letters, that when combined, elicit a predetermined response: R-A-C-E.
Let's discuss this book on Groundhog Day, 2014 (February 2) -- for every day in Black-Run America (BRA) is the same, yielding the exact same results and resulting in yet another 24-hour period bringing us one-step closer to the complete eradication of white privilege in America.
As Chang-rae Lee notes, it's not going to be pretty.