I would certainly say that my life, and perhaps human life in general, follows an intricate pattern of defining, declaring, struggling for, fighting for what we think of and treasure as the self. The inviolate self. This begins with our families: your parents are part of your cultural landscape, and they are also shaped by larger forces than them.
Even criticism is more interesting when the writer's authority does not only come through this omniscient narrator, but through questions, ambivalence, vulnerability. A mind questioning and on the move, not just settling down and declaring - that's one of the most interesting possibilities.
Black Power was really a major challenge to the social privileges and structures of the kind of privilege that I had grown up with. That whole belief... that you will only be able to advance if you are perfectly behaved, if you present yourself as what white people would consider an ideal of whiteness... all of that just began to burst open.
Clever of me to become a critic. We critics scrutinize and show off to a higher end. For a greater good. Our manners, our tastes, our declarations are welcomed. Superior for life. Except when we're not. Except when we're dismissed or denounced as envious or petty, as derivatives and dependents by nature. Second class for life.
In many ways, everything about my upbringing decreed that I wouldn't write a memoir because in the world where I grew up, in Chicago in the Fifties and Sixties, one key way of protesting ourselves - 'we' meaning black people - against racism, against its stereotypes and its insults, was to curate and narrate very carefully the story of the people.