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To Be Black is To Be At the Mercy of the Reflexes of Other People

Long before the child perceives the difference of his black body, and even longer before he understands it, Baldwin writes, he has begun to react to it, he has begun to be controlled by it.

A drive to power, to dominate, has become part of our very reflex. The minority lives at the mercy of the majoritarian habit and reflexes. "You may or may not be spilling blood but there is a name for that world of habits you inhabit," says Aishwary. "Caste." That is the unforgiving world of reflexes that produces what Baldwin calls an inescapable alienation.

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