Richard Wright: Letter to Mike Gold, May 1940

Excerpt: On saving ‘Bigger Thomas’ from fascism

We are in a race with fate and disaster. One nation after another is falling to the Nazis, who today possess the offensive. The issues and the ground of struggle are being stated and projected by men who are destructionists, men who will use any scheme to enlist the loyalties and sympathies of men. Are we Communist writers to be confined merely to the political and economic spheres of reality and leave the dark and hidden places of the human personality to the Hitlers and Goebbels? I refuse to believe such. Hitler yells about ‘strength through joy, organic satisfactions,’ ‘the organic state,’ ‘a solidarity of ideals,’ etc. Well, the old fascist butcher in Berlin has some good points, but he is twisting them for his own bloody ends. And, unfortunately, there are millions of Bigger Thomases in all lands with starved bodies and sensibilities who will follow the Hitlers. The Nazi movement in Germany proves it. I, for one, am not going to leave the field to Hitler and his cohorts. Not to plunge into the complex jungle of human relationships and analyze them is to leave the field to the fascists and I won't and can’t do that. If l should follow Ben Davis’s advice and write of Negroes through the lens of how the Party views them in terms of political theory, I’d abandon the Bigger Thomases. I’d be tacitly admitting that they are lost to us, that fascism will triumph, because it alone can enlist the allegiance of those millions whom capitalism has crushed and maimed. No! I say, wherever the fascists go with their doctrines, I go. Wherever they seek to claim the souls of men with their rot and noise, I, too, make my claim. Paraphrasing Walt Whitman: ‘Not until the sun excludes Bigger Thomas, will I exclude him.’

SOURCE: Fabre, Michel. Richard Wright: Books & Writers (Jackson; London: University Press of Mississippi, 1990), p. 73 (under entry 'Hitler, Adolf').

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