In researching my last post, I came across an old article by my favourite British commentator, Gary Younge. Mr Younge says:
I never wanted to write a column. Not because I’m bashful. But because the idea of having something that I wanted to say, and that someone else wanted to print seemed daunting.
I felt similarly about starting a blog – and reading someone I have as much respect for as Gary Younge wrestle with that feeling – why is what I write of interest to anyone else? Feels reinforcing somehow.
Of course, I’m not relying on anyone wanting to publish me – ha – I am publishing myself in that new-fangled process opened up to the opinionated by the world-wide web. Well, at least the relatively well-off opinionated – I guess no matter how much I thought my views were worth sharing, if I’d been born African the statistical chances of my being able to post online would be pretty small.
But more on why I love Gary Younge. This article is a commentary on how he has done his commentary, and he talks about being pigeon-holed as a “black columnist” – as if he cannot be both black and a columnist. He says one-third of his articles have been about race – and notes he has received hate mail in that time serious enough to have prompted him to go to the police.
Gary Younge is one of the journalists that makes me want to be a journalist. He has written many articles that have challenged me so successfully I remember phrases from them years later. How about this one, an analysis I remember reading in 2001 of Zimbabwe which held Robert Mugabe accountable, while placing the problems there in the context of British colonial history?
Or this, where he takes Eminem to task for his woman hating lyrics like “My little sister’s birthday, she’ll remember me/For a gift I had 10 of my boys take her virginity” – but then argues that rap is far from the only musical place misogyny lurks.
To support this he quoted the Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar”, a song I hadn’t realised until this article was about white slavers raping black women:
“Scarred old slaver knows he’s doing alright/Hear him whip the women just around midnight… Ah, get along, brown sugar how come you taste so good, baby?/Ah, got me feelin’ now, brown sugar just like a black girl should.”
These days, he’s writing about what the apparent collapse of capitalism might mean to ideas about economics. Yep, as far as I’m concerned, he’s still the man – thank goodness he overcame the self-doubt he confessed to back in 2002.