Friday, September 19, 2014

You better run!

Just some thoughts I had listening to Will Bell's So I Run, contrasting it's story to Invisible Man....

While listening to Will Bell's poem So I Run, I was reminded of the dream envelope that the Narrator opened in Invisible Man that read "Keep that nigger boy running."

In So I Run, the narrator is chased through many different scenes of terror in African American history. From the underground railroad to the murders of Tupac and Biggie, the narrator runs. He runs from a voice that is always chasing him. It screams: "YOU BETTER RUN NIGGA!". The fact that these two phrases are so similar to each other made me immediately make the connection that they had.

And so I started to think about the narrator in Invisible Man versus the narrator in So I Run. For starters they are both running, and they are running because of other people. In So I Run, the narrator is running from a threat - he is fleeing in terror. This is very different from the running that the narrator does in Invisible Man. From his college scholarship, to his dismissal to NYC by Bledsoe, to his "reeducation" (the party members literally called it "indoctrination") in the communist party, the narrator is kept running for the benefit of others. For the benefit of the white town leaders, for the benefit of Bledsoe, for the benefit of the party. So in a way the two forms of running are similar and in a way they are different.

Or maybe Will Bell is not trying to say that people were literally screaming "You better run nigga!" at him. Maybe he is trying to say that was what it felt like or seemed like to the narrator. Maybe the narrator (in So I run) feels that the actions of those around him are telling him "You better run nigga!". If this is true, then the only difference between the two narrators is that the narrator in So I Run is conscious of the fact that he is being sent from place to place while the narrator in Invisible Man is not fully conscious of this fact.

In So I Run, the narrator gets peace from the voice -from the fear- only when he finally dies. However in Invisible Man, the narrator seems to have escaped from the "Keep the nigger boy running" cycle when he is in his lightbulb room stealing electricity from the city.

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