peteg's blog - noise - books - 2012 07 03 GilScottHeron TheNiggerFactory

Gil Scott Heron: The Nigger Factory

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In too many ways this is a fictionalisation of an incident that Scott Heron recounts in The Last Holiday, viz presenting demands to a university administration (Lincoln in his case, presumably-fictional Sutton here). The title and cover promised an account of how these institutions shaped Black thought circa 1968 but I didn't see too much of that; we get University President Calhoun's progression from firebrand radical to firebrand conservative, but that's the arc of many a man's life. We get the violent radicals, the stupid and the circumspect. I guess I hoping for some specifics about the cause like MLK and Malcolm X used to get into. Annoyingly his prose is a lot less sparky than he was capable of, and many things (such as racist cops) are lazily taken for granted. He could have expounded on some key historical events (like Kent State) that he instead merely gestures at. As Murrandoo Yanner keenly observed in The Tall Man, the white man should be bothered by this stuff too.