Uncle Remus' Heritage: Protest, Creativity, Story Line, Song, Poetry, TRANSLATIONS

Uncle Remus' Heritage: Protest, Creativity, Story Line, Song, Poetry, TRANSLATIONS

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.

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