Well, I’ll be! This ain’t no joke!

20 Jan

You know when you find a book and you are convinced it’s GOT to be a joke because NO ONE in their RIGHT MIND would ever write such trash for true (any of the books featured here, when Sweet Valley High starting have murders at the prom, “The DaVinci Code”, Ethan Hawke’s oeuvre)? When I found this book, I quoted Jack Donaghy with a big ole “omFg!” I showed it to a co-worker who was rendered speechless and finally realized we should read the foreward. Turns out the “author” of today’s work wanted to pay homage to the wonderful auntie who raised her on stories of the days of old when black folk knew their place while her parents were off fighting for states’ rights and wearing hats or whatever it is rich white people do when they have former slaves to run their households.This “auntie” (what do you respectfully call a person when you no longer own them but yet they are still “part of the family”?) told her stories and then told the author’s children  the same stories. It was all so nice and cozy to the author that she decided to put them down in print for all the world to appreciate. Even better, this nice white lady did it in DIALECT! Because nothing shows respect and love more than trying to write in dialect when you yourself are from dominant culture. Of course, we also live in a society in which we have Aunt Jemima syrup and no one blinks an eye at that. Well, enjoy today’s posting:

Dare I even touch this?

The hero of our story looks like a gorilla. A pipe-smoking, patched overall-wearing gorilla. And the illustrator is a Holocaust survivor. I hate well-meaning white people. They are usually the worst kinds of racists. The kind who say they are not racist but live in homogenous places in which it is easy not to be racist because everyone is like you! Oh, Eula, you are as misguided as your parents’ attempt to name you.

Catch a taste of that authentic voice!

I admit it, I am giggling about “hoecakes.” But only because for all of my liberal, pseudo-intellectual, “good kind of white person,” using-my-Jewish-street-cred-to-my-advantage poses, I giggle at things like “hoecake.” Made you laugh, too, didn’t I? But, still, didn’t you just spew your Fair Trade coffee (in your “This American Life” mug with your soy creamer and turbino sugar) all over your Macbook?

This resembles a nightmare I had when carbon monoxide filled my apartment.

Eula wants to show us how lovable those folkses are, yet this illustration alone is keeping segregation intact for at least the next 20 years. It’s actually quite chilling when you look at it from the perspective that plenty of people still lock their car doors at stoplights when they see an elderly African-American man waiting for the bus nearby. Why do they do it? Because they ultimately buy into this illustration.

How dumb and skeered is Big Road Walker portrayed? So dumb and skeered that he'll never get to vote in his lifetime.

Eula is so stupid she doesn’t know that lions aren’t in the American South! Maybe she misunderstood and it’s supposed to be “liar.” What is interesting is that you can see some of the subversiveness in these tales, but Eula has watered them down so much to reflect what SHE got out of them as a child.

They must have stolen that car, how else could they have gotten it?

Why are the car, the bear and the building in the back drawn with more respect and realism than the people in the car? I mean, they actually look like what they are supposed to be as opposed to looking like they might bust out with “Song of the South” at any minute or talk about how they don’t know nuthin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies.

The walk of shame, but the wrong people are walking it.

I’m pretty sure Santa Claus (oh pardon me, Sandy Claws) left them the following:

  • a crappy life as a sharecropper that will produce generations of bitterness, debt and poverty
  • a third-grade education for which they should be eternally grateful
  • clothes from the Big House to wash and iron by 5 o’clock
  • a rich oral tradition of subversive stories combining Biblical and African storytelling motifs that white people will co-opt for Disney, write masters’ theses on and make boatloads of money off of which Big Road Walker and his family will never see
  • maybe a corncob doll

Her skirt is SHORT and I'm uncomfortable with how that dog is looking at her

Since I couldn’t make it through most of the stories, I have no idea why these white girls with their pretty straight hair and normal-sized facial features are in here. Aren’t they demure and lovely? Especially in the way they like to keep things locked in cages for their own amusement? And dress like Japanese schoolgirls about to hit a military bar?

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4 Responses to “Well, I’ll be! This ain’t no joke!”

  1. Alison January 20, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    That’s not too surprising. F.A. Stokes also published the first American edition of The Story of Little Black Sambo, although that was 40 years earlier.

  2. Jenn Miller January 20, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    Oh, I’m soooo looking forward to letting Alvan know about this one! Just how full is the Review Shelf getting?

  3. Ladies Man February 10, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

    Man, i hope my blog is this good some day! 🙂 haha!

  4. Masha March 5, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    I am cringing. Especially at the contrast between the last picture and all the others.

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