A Speech Pertaining to the Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Reads: 221  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Exactly what the title says. Designed to be delivered at any American college campus. Could be considered semi-controversial.

Submitted: March 19, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 19, 2018



To start with, I’d like to thank you all for coming out here. When I say all, I am not referring to you, or you, or him, or her, or the young man in the yellow sweater at the back. I am referring to the All, the single entity gathered here today to witness me make public my innermost thoughts. I could thank each one of you for taking the time out of your day to view this speech or for your courageous activism towards what many like to think of as a single, unified cause. But it is not that, nor are you brave for doing so. To be frank, you are merely an observer, affirming your invisibility. In fact, you have been invisible for your entire life, just another face in

the crowd, another brick in the wall,

another cog in the machine, however you wish to refer to it. You may be thinking that I’m not talking to you, but I am. I am talking specifically to you. Those with the conviction that they are the force behind change, or that they have made or will make some difference in the world. To you, I say that you are fooling yourself, that the dreams of yourself on the steps of the White House, shaking the hands of the men in power are only fantasies. Many in academia will tell you otherwise, that they are shaping your bright young mind into something respectable and superior to the ill-defined rest. But in what sense are you superior to your peers, what do you have to offer that they do not? The truth is, the machine has reduced you to complacency, and the machine will continue its forced conversion, ironing out flaws in your character until all you are left with is your delusions of grandeur, while you are the mirror image of those around you. I have been awakened to this reality after reading The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

Now, I do not expect you to immediately recognize your invisibility. No, it is a gradual transition, one that is only revealed after the complete destruction of the illusion of self. In the words of the invisible man himself, “When I discover who I am, I’ll be free”. When was the last time your choices have truly been your own and have not been influenced by some external factor? Did you really choose to major in Pan African Studies in order to uphold the image of

the entire race, or just to have the upper hand in a personal debate against a white nationalist? Either way, the choice did not belong to you, and it is a vain attempt to reaffirm what you think of as your personal identity. The truth of the matter is, you will always be ordered around. There will always be someone at the top who has already made your choices for you. Do not deceive yourself into believing that your activism is truly your own. Choosing to join a black lives matter protest is not your own choice, as the entire protest has already been laid out, the location chosen, the route mapped out, the issue to be protested, the list goes on. Throughout the entire protest, you will be herded through the streets like a sheep, following the shepherd, while being surrounded on all sides by the wolves of law. Disregarding this entirely, what possible social change will this single protest spark besides the vague connotation of spreading awareness? While having no real concrete policy agenda, this is what some consider to be the only aim of BLM. A writer for US Uncut wrote an article, claiming the accomplishments of BLM by September 2015. These include an increased use of civilian review boards, more police being charged for their crimes, and less access to military equipment for police. But even if these “wins” can truly be solely attributed to BLM, do they have the capacity to prevent more Trevor Martins, more Sandra Blands, more Tamir Rices?  The invisible man put it best, “I do not know if all cops are poets, but I know that all cops carry guns with triggers.”, and as it turns out, these same cops have itchy fingers for a word that rhymes with trigger.

As I stand before a crowd today, a crowd like any other, I challenge you to question your foundational beliefs, and once you have tore down the walls of illusion, to tear down the brickwork behind it. I would like to leave you with one last quote by Ellison: “Play the game, but don't believe in it--that much you owe yourself. Even if it lands you in a strait jacket or a padded cell. Play the game, but play it your own way--part of the time at least. Play the game, but raise the ante, my boy. Learn how it operates, learn how you operate--I wish I had time to tell you only a fragment.”.


© Copyright 2019 Adrian Rebeil. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Non-Fiction Miscellaneous