Dark Witness by Ralph Wiley

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review

unrated

Synopsis

"You can find in a text whatever you bring, if you will stand between it and the mirror of your imagination. . . . Yes, take it all around, there is quite a good deal of information in the book. I regret this very much; but really it could not be helped."
--Mark Twain
Like his literary forebears--Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, and yes, Mark Twain--Ralph Wiley has some information to purvey. The news is not always good. But with Wiley's electrifying take on subjects from the black intelligentsia to The Bell Curve to O.J., Dark Witness is certain to outrage, entertain, and ultimately enlighten.
The titles of his chapters say it all: "One Day, When I Was On Exhibit." "Why Black People Are So Stupid." "Why Niggers Steal, Are Violent, and Stay on Welfare." "Where Negroes Got All That Rhythm." "Whoopi-Do and Hughes 2." "Sin and Juice." Behind the explosive flash of these phrases simmer the intense honesty and searing self-reflection of a man burning for justice. Taking to heart Douglass's words that "it is not light that is needed, but fire...not the gentle shower, but thunder," Wiley, heir to the long tradition of "writer as activist," examines some of the most hotly debated issues of black life today and turns them inside out:
Affirmative action: "Many times, it seemed the 'worst' black candidates were chosen in hopes that they would fail. People talked about increased productivity, but often they meant in the personal sense. When others succeeded or produced, they felt lessened--it is human nature to feel this, but for a 'white' man to feel inferior to a 'black' in America causes instant insanity."
O.J. Simpson: "Now I've heard it said that The Juice, owing to his choices in women and habitat, wanted to be 'white.' A bigger crock of crap I've never heard. Juice made 'whites' feel comfortable with his kind of 'blackness.' He didn't want to be 'white.' He wanted to be privileged. And he was."
Huck Finn: "There's a Mark Twain Middle School not three miles from my base camp. An administrative aide there, a 'black' man, had wanted to delete any reference to that archaic/contemporary word 'nigger' from Twain's book--the one place where such copious use of the word in society was first best put in perspective, where it was used to describe a condition, where it reflected on the speaker, not the subject. There is not one usage of nigger in Huck Finn that I consider inauthentic and I am hard to please that way."
No one writing today has the incisiveness, the fire to dissect the world the way Ralph Wiley does. In Dark Witness he proves once again that he is one the most gifted writers chronicling life in the crucible that is late-twentieth century America.
 

About Ralph Wiley

See more books from this Author
 
Published April 7, 1997 by One World/Ballantine. 334 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Dark Witness

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Wiley (Why Black People Tend to Shout) arches his satirical barbs high. This personal narrative about life and death at the fin de siecle rambles self-indulgently at times but contains much that e

Apr 01 1996 | Read Full Review of Dark Witness