I Am Not Your Negro

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Jun 8, 2022 2:27 AM
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From this movie I think James Baldwin is a 6.

I want approach this subject — the civil rights movement and the black experience in America — with sensitivity. It seems to me that Baldwin expresses the fears of the entire black community in his writings and speech. To say that Baldwin is a 6 because he simply says that he is afraid is engaging in a two-fold crime — first and most importantly, it would be a failure to see that he expresses not his personal subjective truth but the resonant intersubjective truth of the entire black community; and second, it would be engaging in an "easy typing" stereotype that is so common among unnuanced Enneagram typings. "Oh he's afraid that means he's a 6."

All that said, I still think he's a 6.

A few things.

  • Baldwin's lens and language is fear. He doesn't just say that he's afraid once or twice. He references very frequently. He's not an 8, for instance, who would not as readily and consistently admit how afraid he is. But a 6 would, in the name of truth-speaking, in the 6 style.
  • He's courageous in the style of a 6 — he is afraid and speaks and writes anyway, the truth that he sees. "I don't know where this is going but I see what I see and so I'm gonna say what I say."
  • The exchange on the Dick Cavett Show
    • First, saying that there's not much hope on live TV. Not a shiny 3. Seems more the downtrodden, head-shaking, skeptical of hope way of 6s (and again... with tremendous sensitivity to the truth that he is bearing witness to... suffice it to say though that he is not a 7, for instance, and is probably an emotional realness type given his propensity for emotional honesty. But certainly not an 8 or a 4. And probably a compliant type... and certainly not a 2. A possible argument for 1, but references fear too often and appeals to "principle from on high" not enough to make that argument convincing. So, 6.)
    • His response to the old white professor is amazing, and 6-ish. It is truth-bearing, and provocative, in the style of a 6. Going for the rebuttal, but not in a blunt, full-frontal way like an 8, more in the clawed and speaking my truth and hoping someone hears it way of a 6. Looking for and presenting the evidence of his personal experience, with examples, like a 6. And knowing the limits of his knowledge, giving caveats and being intellectually rigorous like a 6 — "I can't say whether the real estate agencies hate negroes, I can just look at their policies and see what I see. I can't say whether the schools hate negroes, I can just look at the textbooks they give my children and see what I see." etc.
  • The ambivalence in general, is in the style of a 6
    • Is he a pessimist or an optimist?
    • Does he agree with Malcom X or not? Or Martin Luther King Jr. or now?
    • The not belonging to a church, or a ___, or a ___.
    • Does he love white people or hate white people?
    • Will he write this book or not?
  • The dread and ambivalence towards the idea that this project will require that he expose himself as a close witness to the lives of these 3 men, and what will that mean for his life? And the trepidation of having to see all these people again — the wives and children and close ones to these men... what will those encounters be like? Etc. The anticipatory consternation. Feels 6-ish.