Injustice anywhere is Injustice everywhere, Q/A with Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Updated: Jul 24, 2020



We cast a shadow

A tale pernicious racism rising and prevailing in the dystopian setting of the southern city. If you are still unaware of the racist culture that lives in the heart of this world, Yes to this day. The narrator is seen to be an overly loving character. A love that turns to obsession. To save his child from the incarceration of the white supremacists he rubs the little boy with whitening creams and even proposes demelanization. Because it is for his child's good. The fear of being incarcerated drives the desperate father beyond sanity, in his quest to bring justice for his by-racial son Nigel. A fearful, horrifying, and desperate plea for justice.


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Here is what Mr. Ruffin has to say to the questions which I put to him...


Abhigyan:

I was introduced to dystopia when I encountered the world of 1984 by George Orwell, there the supremacists were the power holders who were determined to control every aspect of every person's life, then I came upon "We cast a shadow" a satire, a dystopia which describes the existential fear of a father, a fear he doesn't want to pass to his son. Which of the two supremacists do you think more detestable?

Mr. Ruffin says.

Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

Abhigyan:

Truly said in the words of Martin Luther King Jr. himself "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere". People are in a race to improve their lot but what they do not understand is our destinies are a mesh of entanglement. In that woven piece of fabric, shriveling of a single thread may ruin the entirety.


In your novel, the narrator has an unhealthy love for his child, almost like killing yourself in the fear of getting shot. Even in the wake of white supremacy do you think this can be regarded as love?

Mr. Ruffin says.

It is a kind of love. But white supremacy forces people to make decisions that are indefensible. 

Abhigyan:

Fear indeed makes people do awful things, objects which may be scarred beyond healing. But love is different, it is warm, one must feel the love as the crimson rays of sun warming your skin against the misty cold morning of the fall. One must learn to draw the line between love and obsession.

After everything that has happened in the past few months, do you fear that your dystopia may be taking on reality, the one you based your book on?

Mr. Ruffin says.

I believe the dystopia exists for some people already. If you are a Black person who is unjustly arrested and murdered, that is the same as a dystopia.

Abhigyan:

Horrifying but true one hears such instances of cruelty and injustice more and more these days.

Your book is a mirror to the ignoble reality, it shows how white supremacy can imbue such fear that you run on a path of self-destruction. A little way back we thought Education was the key to the removal of discrimination. Has education done nothing in uprooting the vortex which consumes Black identities? Or are people just returning to their roots in the dark ages?

Mr. Ruffin says.

Some people see the cruel treatment of Black people as a good way to maintain their power and privilege. Education does not eradicate evil.

Abhigyan:

I believe people like that exist, yes and in great numbers. At this moment we are striving to protect the remaining shreds of humanity.

What thoughts do you have about Conrad's "The heart of darkness", a book which was a massive seller but also alleged to be racist?

Mr. Ruffin says.

The Heart of Darkness takes a colonialist view of African peoples and presents them as inhuman animals. In this way, the book contains a damaging lie.

Abhigyan:

A lie yes, but it's also a satire. The emissaries of light are seen sinking in darkness and performing more savage acts than the so-called savages they claim to be taming.

Do you think this supremacy exists due to the power of numbers? Suppose there was a population of black people where few white travelers are introduced. Will those black people exact the same supremacy over the whites as the whites are doing in America?

Mr. Ruffin says:

Inequality exists in all human communities.

Abhigyan:

Inequality was there since the beginning and might as well live long enough to see the end, a trait which is imbibed within any living being sticking to a homogeneous group. But we aren't animals and this is why we should understand and develop fraternity and brotherhood among all humans if not all living beings.

I personally don't favor people being tagged by the color of their skin, do you prefer being called an American or a Black American? In the wake of The Black Lives Matter protests more and more people are declaring themselves as Black before being American.

Mr. Ruffin says.

I'm American, which means I'm entitled to all the rights of Americans. But everyone in America sees me as a Black American, which means I'm deprived of some rights. Therefore, Black American is the proper term.

Abhigyan:

Honestly, as I said before people culminate with their kind, and pretend that their culture is better than all others, the reason why Americans become black and white and among them, there are the rich and poor, the list can go on. How many more divisions will the society hold till it collapses? Justice should be fair and square for everyone. More for my black brethren because they are deprived of the basic need "Respect when none are looking".

Being an Indian I live in a society which is a kaleidoscope of culture and races, where there are different virtues to each sect but before anything we are Indians. We don't identify ourselves as black, brown, or any color. Although I must say that discrimination finds its way through the tightest of bindings. A couple of months ago a Hindu priest was lynched in a gathering of Muslims or before that, a Muslim boy was made to chant Hindu verses before being lynched. Is the world beginning to tear up or has it been this way? What do you think about religious discriminations and do you think this should gain the attention of masses more?

Mr. Ruffin says.

There has always been a disorder, but it becomes worse in times of economic and political unrest.

Abhigyan:

Order and chaos have walked hand in hand since the birth of civilizations. Everything mankind has done since its inception is to diminish the chaos if not annihilate it. Economic unrest makes people succumb, Politics is what lives to disinfect the chaos and bring justice. I think they cannot be made to look less injurious by claiming unrest. Also, awareness for every section of the world is necessary, not just the tyranny that is visible to the world but also the more inconspicuous ones. We don't seek attention but we sure do seek Justice, this should be the motto of every victim throughout the globe. Enough of that now, I will surely like to know..

What sphere would you be perusing in the course of the next book you write?

Mr. Ruffin says.

I may write about the history of Black people in America

Abhigyan:

It would be interesting to read your take on it. From a couple of books I have read and heard about, it is an account of suppression which is horrible to its very core.

Do you have any message for your readers, both black and white alike?

Mr. Ruffin says.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Abhigyan:

Words of real wisdom these are. I preach to everyone who reads this. Always give the feelings which you would want to receive. "As you sow, so shall you reap", isn't that what they taught us in primary school? It is high time we start applying those primary words which have stayed with us for so long. Love may not beget love always but Hatred always begets hatred.

I pray for strength to all the victims who are suffering and their family members, I pray for some humanity into the tyrants who have preyed upon those people.

And I pray that America wakes up to a sunshine 


Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,

and

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls..

-Rabindranath Tagore


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