Doing The Reich Thing?

Ralph Ellison receiving the National Book Award, Ellison portrait, via AP Photo

Kudos to Mr. Evan Smith Rakoff who arranged for Vintage Books to donate copies of Ralph Ellison’s timeless masterpiece, Invisible Man, to the high school students of Randolph County, NC, after the book was banned by the county school board several weeks ago.

One school board member who voted to ban the book, Gary Mason, actually stated, “I didn’t find any literary value.”


Perhaps ole Gary boy had a swastika for a teething ring? One whittled from the branch of a Strange Fruit tree? If so; he should really be proud of himself for having done the Reich thing.

But enough of that.

Insofar as Mr. Ellison’s work being short on literary value? Well, the book does more than speak for itself. As one writer so eloquently stated in a comment submitted on my post paying tribute to Ellison’s birthday:

It speaks to so much more than racial identity. Ellison’s understanding of the implications of race actually draw out the power and magic of that mysterious wound in all of us. David Biddle

Magic indeed! At least for the students of Randolph County, NC., who now — like the generation before them — will be afforded an opportunity to read Invisible Man.

Who knows? They may even find they have the ability to see invisible men?

Xmatman out.

A Spook Meets the Invisible Man

On this day in history, March 1, 1913, noted American author and essayist Ralph Waldo Ellison was born in Oklahoma City, OK. His book, Invisible Man, published in 1952 and awarded the National Book of the Year award for Fiction in 1953, would be ranked as one of the top 100 English language novels of the 20th century by both The Modern Library and Time Magazine.

I would never hear of Ellison or his literary works in any of the English/American literature classes I took in the predominately ‘Black’ urban high schools I attended, or in college; but would discover both almost three decades later in − of all places − a naval base library.

It was the prologue that drew me: Continue reading “A Spook Meets the Invisible Man”

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