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Many of them indeed know better, but as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know.
Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority, but to their inhumanity and fear.
Please try to be clear, dear James, through the storm which rages about your youthful head today, about the reality which lies behind the words "acceptance" and "integration." There is no reason for you to try to become like white men and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you.
You come from a long line of great poets, some of the greatest poets since Homer. I keep seeing your face, which is also the face of your father and my brother.
One of them said, "The very time I thought I was lost, my dungeon shook and my chains fell off." You know and I know that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too early. Like him, you are tough, dark, vulnerable, moody - with a very definite tendency to sound truculent because you want no one to think you are soft.
Let him curse and I remember his falling down the cellar steps and howling and I remember with pain his tears which my hand or your grandmother's hand so easily wiped away, but no one's hand can wipe away those tears he sheds invisibly today which one hears in his laughter and in his speech and in his songs.
I know what the world has done to my brother and how narrowly he has survived it and I know, which is much worse, and this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it.
They are in effect still trapped in a history which they do not understand and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.
They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men.
How bitter you are," but I am writing this letter to you to try to tell you something about how to handle them, for most of them do not yet really know that you exist. Let me spell out precisely what I mean by that for the heart of the matter is here and the crux of my dispute with my country.
I know the conditions under which you were born for I was there. To be loved, baby, hard at once and forever to strengthen you against the loveless world. You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason.