Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hands off Remus. Uses of "Nigger". Alien ideologues, keep off.

1.  Huckleberry Finn is under attack.  It can be taught with the original words to show whatever the teacher and student elect to focus upon.

Will Uncle Remus be next.  Never, if we can help it. Hear its uses with Julian Curry at ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD-UpHlB9no/ Try Kamal Supreme at ://vimeo.com/230593. or Reginald Doc Williams at ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l99_0gSNf4U/  Language use is not for any group to decide.  It belongs to those who experience it.

2.  Let the culture decide.
  • Some matters are for history and the culture to decide. It is not the word.  It is the time, place, and manner of usage that constitutes education/ 
  • So with Mark Twain, and Remus.  Not for bureaucrats, ideologues. 
  • Teach the context of the time, the options, the choices, the mindsets.  Compare to today.  Do a timeline of meanings for "nigger."  Restore dignity not by denial of a past, but by showing how fake it was in its ascribing of inequality. Make a whole language arts and social studies curriculum around how language shapes and perpetuates stereotypes.  People even stop thinking about it.  Huck just was part of his times. 
Schools.  Teach it as it is.  Have students try to recreate a tale like Huck's without use of the common term of the time.  Slave?  Never.  Slavery differed with each culture, each set of restrictions, some were temporary, full persons in servitude for a while, others defined slaves -- as we did -- as less than people.  Make the curriculum a comparison of slavery contexts over time.  Scots enslaved and sent to the Caribbean, as they were. Look at the Scots surnames of blacks there.

Find uses of "nigger" in literature at ://www.stagger.net/books/nword.htm.  Find there numerous books where "nigger" was used to communicate an element necessary to the tale, a reality, like it or not. Find constructive, mutual relationships, solid and with growth on both sides, despite a social inequality.

Teach it as it was in the Civil War era, see N Word Essay at ://www.civilwarliterature.com/01Introduction/TheNWord.htm/  It has its own etymological history.
  • Try a Google book -- Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, from 2003, by Randall Kennedy at http://books.google.com/books?id=VgVzXgUxFB4C&pg=PA145&lpg=PA145&dq=uses+of+nigger+in+literature&source=bl&ots=ZP8tLCrLk6&sig=7OfntUXDvhLoLEzb7IpMTNLMAJA&hl=en&ei=LFoqTamwIsWt8AaNu7nrAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CEkQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=uses%20of%20nigger%20in%20literature&f=false
Do your own search for uses of nigger in literature.  Remus?  Hands off.  Hands off Uncle Remus.  You hear? Disney almost killed him off anyway with the pap that passes for "tales" as they really were.

4.  Are we to delete Carl Sandburg: 

This  poem, I am the Nigger,  is all over the internet. How can it be copyrighted? I have no idea.  This is an old poem, see ://carl-sandburg.com/nigger.htm

Is this how it was, is, for those identified with the word. Should we not know. Here is our rough retype, spacing added to highlight the images: how does a mere retyping create copyright?  We retype our own, here. No claim to copyright our version. Fair use, we think, of a totality of works by Sandburg. Sandburg is for the ages. A little different format at ://www.americanpoems.com/poets/carlsandburg/12689


I am the nigger.
Singer of songs,
Dancer…


Softer than fluff of cotton…
Harder than dark earth
Roads beaten in the sun
By the bare feet of slaves…

Foam of teeth … breaking crash of laughter…

Red love of the blood of woman,
White love of the tumbling pickaninnies…
Lazy love of the banjo thrum…

Sweated and driven for the harvest-wage,

Loud laughter with hands like hams,
Fists toughened on the handles,
Smiling the slumber dreams of old jungles,

Crazy as the sun and dew and dripping, heaving life of the jungle,

Brooding and muttering with memories of shackles:
     I am the nigger.
     Look at me.
     I am the nigger


Carl Sandburg -- now, go see the original spacing, for impact.

Friday, August 22, 2008

An Expanded Lens - Protest , Dignity and Survival. The Uncle Remus Heritage

An Expanded Lens
on the Remus Heritage:

Protest, Survival, Dignity, Deep Thinking.


The popular notion of Uncle Remus as a kindly pawn, happy to be where he is, is a distortion.

1. He was not a historical individual, but a persona used by Joel Chandler Harris to record and share the great stories of the southern slave and reconstruction tradition. The tales were "as told by" Uncle Remus - a composite, but real to us and to many. See ://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG97/remus/remus.html. We are translating those from the idiom, to ease understanding of the story line, not as a substitute, at Uncle Remus Tales and Other Stories Translations.

2. He had a story to tell about his own community and he did not quietly swallow his circumstances. Uncle Remus as a concept "lived" in the era not only of slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, but also Jim Crow. For that, go immediately to the racism, subtle and not subtle discriminations and negative messages, murder and distortions of life and culture and religion, all accepted, as Jim Crow - at ://www.jimcrowhistory.org/; the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris University, MI at website http://www.ferris.edu/JIMCROW/what.htm; http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/

And he taught that little boy listening to him that there was another way of seeing the world, other than Aunt Sally's. See FN 1 From the Disney version, see://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvPcO7-FzW0, (from "Song of the South") he is diminished in the name of "idealizing" a low status, that also was control. Then, rural whites were also diminished ("idealized") - see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5b8y54dwWs (from "So Dear To My Heart" 1948), but there was not the same element of control, having to keep in "place."

The technique of indirection. Protest will not be seen in Disney, or children's books about Remus. It is there, in the originals, and shows that protest cannot always be, and does not have to be confrontational. Individuals engage in protests in place. See how Uncle Remus gets his points across.

From Remus, we started finding others in that tradition and era who also included in their work a quieter protest. See the collected songs and stories, at Uncle Remus Tales, Stories, Sayings. And the poems and writings here. These were by people who survived by doing what they had to where they were, if they were stuck; but they found ways to be creative, responsive, and hold their own, in their community, anyway.

Other racial, ethnic groups. No search stops easily at any given time. We began seeing, sometimes in chat rooms for special interests, creative descriptions worth passing on. The ethnic or racial group is not pivotal - we are interested in the street vernacular used in the writing. Perhaps Black, or Hispanic, hard to tell when the street vernacular is used. See Slasher X here. Brilliant, at Slasher X Raced Santa's Sleigh. Looking now for native American, other.

It doesn't matter the ethnicity or race. Immigrant groups, or ethnic groups, all traditional targets of those who say, Down Down, every time someone else says, Up Up. That was a play, we understand, in Central Park that turned into mass call and response, actors and audience, and audience against audience, actor against actor. Up Up! Down Down! Got very loud.

Untapped creativity. And survival skills. We all need all of it. Other views and lives - pay attention. How to get across to each other that we are one country, and that broadened concrete opportunity, combined with means and respect, is the most important plank in any politics. Vistas, to look forward to and facilitate; encourage and find the common ground among us, not fear.

If you haven't already, click on Slasher X and his racah car, and Weezy. Meet and delight.

Idiom obstacle. In reading however, the dialect, the idiom, got in the way. We wanted to know the story line, and then go back and read it in the original - even aloud to ourselves. We wanted to know the references, not miss a thing. So we started out - see progress at Uncle Remus Tales, Stories, Proverbs, Songs.

How much is Jim Crow still with us? See FN 2

.................................................................

FN 1 Indirection; Strategic Ambiguity as a life saver. In the tales, there was protest, there was undermining of Aunt Sally's efforts to produce a little boy who simply believed what she said, he used that little boy to accomplish some of his own pranks (some are hardly pranks), he did not bow. Uncle Remus expanded that child's horizons. Aunt Sally never knew.
FN 2. How much of Jim Crow still with us? You decide. How much persists but in deniable ways. How does your daily paper get a subtext message across. The media. What use do we make of news placement in the paper itself, ambiguity and equivocation, and words that "sound like", then get testy when someone points out the subtext.

Two examples, two photos, two candidates in another state, same day, same daily paper, same page. Who is placed where, in what context, and how presented.

Hartford Courant 2008, above the fold, candidate A

Friendly diner, nice audience, everybody so pleased, clapping, story line there, we come in just as a fine joke was told. We could like that guy, maybe even share a brew.


Hartford Courant 2008, below the fold, candidate B

No audience, not even a discernible location, no story line, nobody responding because there is nobody shown in the picture frame view there to respond, just the teller of some tale, certainly "sharing" nothing with a group because the group is not shown, no face, no features, but he sure is - hush your mouth - black. Subtext. Subtext. Subtext. Propaganda by subtext.

Fair use here because we are making an entirely different point from the given stories;and these photos follow a pattern in that daily of opinion imposition in a "news" context, not the opinion spots. News tilts. See News tilt news ratings.

Maybe the locations of the photographs, at the attention spot above the fold, is simple journalistic choice. Ok. But how about the rest. Will pointing this out make a difference? No. Full-frontal confronting on these or any social issues does not work - the travelers just wrap their cloaks more tightly around them - and an absence of confronting is worse - there is no change. No win.

Slasher X - "Raced Santa's Sleigh Last Night"


"Raced Santa's Sleigh Last Night"
*

by Slasher X

(informal translation from urban idiom by Carol Widing)



Yo
I got the mad reindeer killin' skills, kid!
I was in my Fly ass hoopty escort with the shogun rims
And the bodykits right, right?

When this dam fat-bearded mother-f____
Come all strollin' up on me at a light
With these crazy-looking grayhound horse thingies...
My boy Weezy said
They the reindeer
But like, that light is all red and **** (sic) slowin' down my ride,
When this fat, bearded ****
Whips his sleigh at me.

Sh_________t!
Ain't nobody whippin' their sleigh
At my mad killer quik escort, know what I mean?
So, like Weezy done put down his window
And starts flashin' his gang signs
And gold teeth,
When I bring that sonumbitch up to like ...9000 rpms and****, right?

Light done go green and I punch it
And even cut a chirp on the ice!
Weezy done say it was my tape deck rewindin',
But I know my cars got the power to light 'em up
Like them V8 losers say.
Mad killer power!
All you can hear is them bumblebees in my Phat exhaust tip
Comin' out, spellin' doom for Santa,
When Weezy slaps me upside the head
'Cause I left the car in Park.

Oh, damn!
I quick shift to the D, yo,
And Santa's sleighbells are only gettin' more and more faint
In the distance, right?
All of a sudden I see a flash of them reindeer
And a bright red sleigh shoot ahead with that fat ****
Callin' me a Ho Ho Ho
While his one reindeer starts flashin' his nose like hazards!

I go and reach for my strap
But it too late, yo,
Santa done schmoked my killer racah car...
Damn...
Maybe if I put in some of that ZMax into my engine
I'll get him next year...
Oh well...
YOU KNOW my car gets them women.

.........................................

This is only the story line, to ease the reading of the original.

For creative impact, go
first to the original contemporary idiom at
http://www.newcelica.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-5491.html. (put in address bar)

To Slasher X - Who are you? We want to give you credit for this work. Any translation from an idiom is to encourage people to spend time to read the original, and you did a fine job here. Weezy too. You have a world to talk about, and to.

This reference to your work is no violation of copyright, to our understanding, because we are not reproducing an original, but we are taking it to a different form (and far less effective - this is ridiculous compared to the life and energy of the original). We think that is right. Let us know about your next work - want it up here, too? Or not. Just say.

Glossary - In addition to any footnotes


Paul Lawrence Dunbar 1872-1906 - When the Corn Pone's Hot

When the Corn Pone's Hot
by Paul Lawrence Dunbar 1872-1906
Informal translation from dialect - Carol Widing

There are times in life when Nature
Seems to slip a cog and go,
Just a-rattlin' down creation,
Like an ocean's overflow;
When the world just starts a-spinnin'
Like a picaninny's top,
And your cup of joy is brimming
'Til it seems about to slop,
And you feel just like a racah, FN 1
That is trainin' for to trot --
When your mammy says the blessing
And the corn pone's hot.

When you sit down at the table,
Kind of weary-like and sad,
And you're just a little tired,
And perhaps a little mad;
How your gloom turns into gladness,
How your joy drives out the doubt,
When the oven door is opened,
And the smell comes pourin' out;
Why, the electric light of Heaven
Seems to settle on the spot
When your mammy says the blessing
And the corn pone's hot.

When the cabbage pot is steaming
And the bacon good and fat,
When the chittlin's are a sputterin'
So's to show you where they're at;
Take away your soda biscuit,
Take away your cake and pie,
For the glory time is coming,
And it's approaching mighty nigh,
And you want to jump and holler,
Though you know you'd better not,
When your mammy says the blessing
And the corn pone's hot.

I have heard a-lots of sermons,
And I have heard o-lots of prayers,
And I've listened to some singin'
That has took me up the stairs
Of the Glory-Land and set me
Just below the Master's throne,
And have left my heart a-singin'
In a happy after tone;
But those words so sweetly murmured
Seem to touch the softest spot,
When my mammy says the blessing,
And the corn pone's hot.

....................................................................................................

Source used: "Representative Poetry Online" (original dialect) at https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/html/1807/4350/poem768.html, online original text in numbered lines, 2003 by Ian Lancashire, University of Toronto. Footnotes are also there.

FN 1 - Racah - idiom re racing horse still in use - we find this phrase, "killer racah car," in someone's idiomatic description of street-racing Santa, see ://www.newcelica.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-5491.html. See Uncle Remus Heritage, Slasher X, Racing Santa.

Here's something - racah as from the Hebrew "RQH" and that means vain, empty, see ://books.google.com/books?id=453eZ3ihs2cC&pg=PA209&lpg=PA209&dq=racah+horse&source=web&ots=G__bwryezO&sig=bn7EzXPhtCDPReqU3XV1L3Ub4Wo&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result. Other references: lunar crater, science. YouTube - BOx cAr rAcA at ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYiF4Wt6h7o. There also is a street racing online site.