This is Part 2 of a three part series.
In Part 1, we examined what the new bookworld order was, what kind of toys it had and what that meant to independent bookstores. In Part 2, we will take a necessary trip to the dark side of American institutions and look at the year when it all began for Robin's Book Store. We conclude in Part 3, with a better understanding of the role of Robin's Book Store in reforming America's institutions and in upholding the credo of the revolutionary spirit.
the dark side
In search of a true identity we look for meaning in a virtual sea of unattached data. What is found, will likely urge consumers to purchase more, unattached data.
The further removed we become from the ghosts of past and present identity, the closer we come to looking and sounding like a circuit on a motherboard. The look is indistinguishable from any other, while the sound, an equally indistinguishable low level hum.
The creation of a pseudo-world by the mass media is made possible by the structure of the society which enables people to choose only that which is of the same opinion as they are. The remote possibility of debate and discussion, let alone action, disappears as the experience of the public turns into that of the mass: narrower and limited to their routine and structural (out-of-their-own-control) environment from which they cannot escape.
Larry Robin saw this echo chamber effect in absence of the fluid face to face exchange process an independent bookstore such as his offered.
There, hard held notions would often be challenged and put to an intensive proof test. Benefiting such close examination, uncertainty may result, or even dismissal altogether of unsubstantiated, hence unsupportable, theories.
The elements of truth recovered from doubt necessary to guide the seeker would have prevailed.
Seventy six years ago, in 1936, many Americans were suffering through the lingering pain of the Wall Street stock market crash of 1929. Long soup kitchen lines and boxed government issued surplus food helped people get by.
Brother, can you spare a dime?
Men crowded street corners looking for the back of a crowded pick up truck to jump in for work. If they missed it, maybe a dime, if you could spare it. The destruction of The Dust Bowl increased the hardship for the Plains folks, and people watched with suspicion, and an isolationist slant, as both Europe and Asia renewed their devotion to Mars.
From the spent market exhaust fumes of a depression era economy
Because his customers were unable to repay the loans he had made to them, Larry Robin's grandfather, David, started a business salvaging and recycling used and discarded magazines for resale.
It's alive, it's alive
The family had adapted to a changed world, and with that change came a challenging new beginning.
Larry Robin's Used Magazines and Book Store was open for business.
If you were the black minority, America, 1936 was the deepest, darkest, nightmare.
The notion that there had been a revolution to free men from tyranny, with enlightened rhetoric proclaiming the rights and equality of all people, was laughable. Nothing could have been farther from the truth.
For African Americans, the misery of the Great Depression operated on top of the misery of the Separate But Equal, segregationist United States Supreme Court ruling, which effectively meant that African Americans were banished by constitutional extraction. They were legally herded into social, political, economic and spacial isolation pens. A race class of sub citizen American inhabitant.
White Americans were institutionally empowered to mistreat African Americans. Still, for many, a constitutional carte blanche didn't go far enough, and brutal oppression beyond what the law officially allowed, went unchecked as an unofficially sanctioned practice and policy.
Blacks were lynched as a matter of course, sometimes in mass gatherings, with the constables, the judge, families, the Sunday school teacher, the preacher and the church choir in attendance. There might even be food and refreshments to help celebrate the grand finale.
As the gruesome Billie Holiday song Strange Fruit graphically lyricized the lynch sensory experience, just as gruesome was the federal government's refusal to pass an anti lynching law.
Laws which systematized the subjugation of, and were created to establish permanent dominion over, African Americans, were commonly referred to as Jim Crow.
Institutionalized black male murder ring called justice.
African Americans were disfranchised from voting mainly in the south, and therefore subjected to the racist malice ladened mindset of all white juries.
Punish as many as possible
The result. Surprise. A justice system that effectively functioned to convict, punish, imprison and execute, as many African American men as humanly possible, where ever possible.
Beginning to understand why some might oppose the death penalty?
Then there was the Klan
Real life murderers and Klan thugs were represented in the film as crusader like heroes riding in on white horses to defend unarmed and defenseless white people, especially white women, from the white woman craving and raping, dumb, lacking in moral character, mindless thug, black man.
The tickets were expensive and the movie was long, but,
It was one of the highest grossing films between 1915 and 1950, until Gone With The Wind, with Clark Gable.
The Klan's enduring imprint
That fake cultural image stands atop a pile of racist revisionist hatred dung as one of America's most embraced and enduring cultural images.
As American as apple pie
It remains one that all African American males must factor into their everyday multicultural interactions and appears to have been taken on as an assimilation check point for some immigrant groups eager to demonstrate their identification with the dominent majority ethnic population.
During his term in office, 1913 to 1921, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, President Woodrow Wilson, said that The Birth of a Nation film was terribly true and praised the racism of the scenes and historic assertions as writing history with a lightening rod. F.D.R. appointed U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Hugo Black, who served from 1937 to 1971, Presidents of the United States Harry S. Truman, who served from 1945 to 1953, members of Congress, and other justices and presidents, at different times during their public careers, joined the Klan and wore the white robe and coned hooded uniform.
The system of subjugation operated to assure that African Americans would loose ground and never stay current, or ever get ahead. A permanent underclass is meant to exist just one step away from the previous condition of institutionalized slavery.
OK, nuf said.
The two best things about the year 1936 in America were, one, the author's mother was born September 23 of that year, and two, Larry Robin's grandfather, David, starting the bookstore business.
For all the rest, repeat after me,
r e p a r a t i o n s .
America's revolutionary spirit comes roaring back