a state of lawlessness and disorder
Some of the things that the Communists said were true; they maintained that there came times in history when a ruling class could no longer rule, and I sat looking at the beginnings of
a situation from which extrication is difficult
My knowledge of how Negroes react to their
plight makes me declare that no man can possibly be individually guilty of treason, that an insurgent act is but a man’s desperate answer to those who twist his environment so that he cannot fully share the spirit of his native land.
be mad, angry, or furious
Perhaps Brand and Cooke, lacking interests that could absorb them,
fuming like children over trifles, simply invented their hate of each other in order to have something to feel deeply about.
showing a brooding ill humor
One was Brand, a short, black,
morose bachelor; the other was Cooke, a tall, yellow, spectacled fellow who spent his spare time keeping track of world events through the Chicago Daily Tribune.
deriving pleasure from inflicting pain on another
But when I asked a timid question I found that even Jewish doctors had learned to imitate the
sadistic method of humbling a Negro that the native-born whites had cultivated.
prevent the occurrence of; prevent from happening
obviate this, I cleaned but two steps at a time, a distance over which a ten-year-old child could step.
habitually reserved and uncommunicative
Finally a doctor came, gray-haired, white-coated, spectacled, efficient, serious,
taciturn, bearing a tray upon which sat a bottle of mysterious fluid and a hypodermic needle.
conspicuous in position or importance
After the meeting I met an Irish girl who worked for an advertising agency, a girl who did social work, a schoolteacher, and the wife of a
prominent university professor.
lacking distinct or individual characteristics
Following the man was a horde of
nondescript men, women, and children, waving clubs, stones, and pitchforks.
characterized by intense emotion
The members were
fervent, democratic, restless, eager, self-sacrificing.
characterized by extreme care and great effort
No report about Young had come from the Communist party, but since Young seemed a
conscientious worker, I did not think the omission serious in any case.
a courteous expression of esteem or regard
Finally the members who had been silent in
deference to the party rose and demanded of me that the foolish charges against Swann be withdrawn
refuse to acknowledge
I was so hurt and humiliated that I
disavowed all relations with Young.
excessive fervor to do something or accomplish some end
I admired his great revolutionary fervor, but I felt that his
zeal was a trifle excessive.
remote in manner
The party leader,
aloof and amused, gave Young the signal to begin.
speak against in an impassioned manner
Young unrolled a sheaf of papers and
declaimed a list of political charges that excelled in viciousness his previous charges.
temperamentally disinclined to talk
I did not know Negro Communists as well as I wanted to, and when, on many occasions, I had sought to question them about their feelings, their work, and their actions, they had been
characteristic of those who treat others with arrogance
His tone was more
patronizing than that of a southern white man.
being of the property-owning class
And that was enough to condemn me forever as
make known to the public information previously kept secret
I talked to Ross for hours, explaining what I was about, cautioning him not to relate anything that he did not want to
intellectual depth; penetrating knowledge
Why was it that I was a suspected man because I wanted to reveal the vast physical and spiritual ravages of Negro life, the
profundity latent in these rejected people, the dramas as old as man and the sun and the mountains and the seas that were transpiring in the poverty of black America?
give instructions to or direct somebody to do something
Occasionally a Negro Communist—defying the code that
enjoined him to shun suspect elements—came to my home and informed me of the current charges that Communists were bringing against one another.
only partly in existence; imperfectly formed
I was termed a “bastard intellectual,” an “
incipient Trotskyite”; it was claimed that I possessed an “antileadership attitude” and that I was manifesting “seraphim tendencies,” the latter phrase meaning that one has withdrawn from the struggle of life and considers oneself an infallible angel.
not sensible about practical matters
I realized that I had not been objective in my
quixotic fight to save the clubs.
act of correcting an error or a fault or an evil
“Let them know that it is their right to petition for a
redress of their grievances.”
something causing misery or death
Racial hate had been the
bane of my life, and here before my eyes was concrete proof that it could be abolished.
make resentful or angry
Yet a new hate had come to take the place of the
rankling racial hate.
a member of the working class
I knew that if they had succeeded in getting me fired they would have considered it a triumph of
assail or attack on all sides
I had intended to, but I was
beset by so many impulses that I could not act.
break apart or in two, using violence
Somehow man had been
sundered from man and, in his search for a new unity, for a new wholeness, for oneness again, he would have to blunder into a million walls to find merely that he could not go in certain directions.