Thursday, August 4, 2011

To Kill A Mockingbird and Nigger Jim: Great American Classics My Ass!

It alway amazes me how some topics can be the big news of the day, filled with heated debates, but yet, fade into the background while the beat goes on. Gil Scott Heron has died and his voice...  well, read on and see what I mean.

I couldn't believe the raging debates on yes Nigger Jim or no Nigger Jim. Well, in the first place, I never understood why "To Kill A Mockingbird" and "The adventures of Huckleberry Finn" are considered American classics. What, classic vehicles to carry the message...   it takes good white folks to rescue dem po dumb darkies,  I  mean niggas jims? Uh huh, and in the end the darkie still gets screwed. Ummmm, what's the message?

Oh yeah, I heard the cry of some of our 2011 negros....   "Lawdy Lawdy....   don't take Nigger Jim out of  The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn".  Look, I am not going there today because that sh*t pisses me off.   Well, I had one person tell me the following...

"We should have it so that our children ask us 'why they call him Nigger Jim' and for parents to be able to explain the dynamic of racisim and what that crap implies"


Now, if that's not a paper thin stupid argument, I'll kiss your ass. Let's see, if I'm not mistaken, the word "nigger" is presently being used and has been used for nearly 200 years or more. So, we should keep it in Huck Finn to teach our children the dynamics of racism?  Get the f**k out of here. If our children's learning tool on racism and the word "nigger" is relegated to The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, that child and it's parents are destined to be well below the curve. And check this, some folks believe removing the words "Nigger Jim"  is an attempt by white folks to whitewash history.  Again I say, GTFOOH.  There are millions of source material that highlight the word "nigger" and displays racism in all it's glory. But they are not considered Classic American novels, that are mandatory reading in Jr High Schools (middle school). The "whitewash" argument makes no sense at all.

But check this, I do have a few questions:  Why is Gil Scott Heron in jail for killing a freakin' mockingbird?



No folks, not Jill Scott, Gil Scott Heron. What, you haven't read about this? I bet you've heard of Nigger Jim and Edgar Allen Poe.

Well, I know you've seen - or heard - of Sex In The City, but what about Black Thighs?
Huh, what,   don't tell me you've never read Black Thighs?

Surely you've read The Night Before Christmas - but what about - Before The White Man Came? Yep, you've seen Message In A Bottle, but what about Message To The Messengers? Who wrote the words to that poem and what was the message? Hint: It was a message to rappers by the Godfather. Nope, not James Brown nor "Don" Vito Corleone.

Okay, maybe this is not fair. Maybe all of your novels and books of poetry were stolen be Nigger Jim or got lost in the washing machine or in the brainwash. But I'm just saying, I am sure you've heard about Broke Back Mountain, but what about On Coming From A Broken Home, huh? Have you read that? Surely you've heard of Hill Street Blues, but what about The Get Out Of The Ghetto Blues? Come on now folks, Woman Are From Venus And Men Are From Mars - right.  Okay, let me hear it, Whitey On The Moon...    answers, questions, give me a line or two?

Damn, don't take this ass whoopin personally but sing along with me, I know you know the song...   "home home on the range, where the dear and the antelope play, where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are all sunny all day". Okay, do you know the words to "Home Is Where The Hatred Is"?

Well, if you've been stumped, it's gimme time. I mean, who hasn't seen "Waiting To Exhale", but what about "Waiting For The Ax"? Come on, I know you've heard about the old negro and his Uncle Tom's Cabin, but what about the words from "The Klan"....    huh, have you read them?

You guys are starting to piss me off. But maybe I am speaking to the wrong crowd?  So I'll direct my attention to the old school audience. Now, which of you has not taken a quick peek at the soap operas All My Children and The Guiding light? Okay, but what about the lyrics from Save The Children and The Guided? Wait, I have an easier one. Everybody knows a little something about Days Of Our Lives, but what about "Lady Day And John Coltrane"? Do you know anything about that literature?

I am so sorry, how could I have been so careless. I should have made this a black thang. Okay, here we go. Er'body has danced to the Sooooul Train, but what about Your Soul And Mine. I mean, have you heard of that? But wait, who can forget Denzel Washington's performance in Walter Moseley's Devil In A Blue Dress, but do you know anything about "Me & The Devil"? Huh, have you heard of that?

Oh lawd, I am crying because this ass whoopin is hurting me more than it's hurting you, but I can't stop this train. No, not the soul train, this train of thought.

Speaking of a thought, I am thinking about writing Oprah to make a few suggestions. See, she has this book club thing. Well, although she has included a few books written by black folks, I'd like to included a few must read selections, you know, American Classics.  Granted, she has championed the popular black writers like Toni Morrison , Bill Cosby, Maya Angelou, Pearl Cleage, Lalita Tademy, Sidney Poiter and a few others, but those are feel good authors. I mean, they're "safe" authors. But I have to admit that I did love two of Toni Morrison's book and A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines, and I Know Why A Caged Bird Sings... but let me get back in form.

Instead of Oprah reaching out to William Faulkner (his 4th), I think she would be the greatest black woman that has ever walked this earth if her next three books were by Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets and Paul Mooney.

Hey, if a lying white dude can get on Oprah's list, why can't she give the drummer some...  a black drummer leader?   If Gil Scott Heron, who has his masters degree from John Hopkins University, can go to jail for killing a mocking bird, surely we can throw him a bone by checking out his 2010 I'm New Here, and all of his earlier classics. Besides, we all could use a little history lesson, can't we?


Er'body knows about Juneteenth and Martin Luther Kings Birthday. What about the American poet and author Gil Scott Heron? Okay, maybe he didn't kill a mockingbird or Harper Lee(the author of To Kill A Mockingbird), but why is her book considered an American Classic? Is it because her book championed the thought that it's the American way of life - (always has been) - that white folks are superior to black folks.  And, from what I read, the messages is...   it's standard procedure to mistreat po colored folk?

I know the name of another book that's considered an American classic...  yeah, freakin'  Hucklebuckin' Nigger Jim.  As a young student, I was required to read that mess. Who can forget that fine reading pleasure.  I still have scars  And some folks are screaming "LEAVE NIGGER JIM ALONE'.  They say, to remove the "nigger"  from Jim's first name, would be akin to whitewashing history.  Uuuuummmm, yeah, I know, it sounds like somebody has been brainwashed and whitewashed.
I don't know why the caged bird sings but I know every closed eye ain't sleep. My eyes have seen the glory...  what about you? Pick out and pickup a few good books and read them to - and with - your children.

This post was inspired by my friend Maxine Beneba Clark http://slamup.blogspot.com/ .  All of the above titles are the works of Gil Scott Heron and Maxine - from Australia - has written a collection of poetry... Gil Scott Heron Is On Parole




Her latest post is titled, Being Alice Walker's Daughter. Check it out - her blog - and checkout her book.

And, who is the man behind this blog? Well, if you care to know, I am in the following clip. Yelp, surprise surprise, I run my mouth for a living.


8 comments:

Big Mark 243 said...

I ain't afraid of talking about stuff and letting everybody know how little I do know...

If we as a people could unite and come together, we'd keep the character in the book. The name change is less about 'us' than it is about 'them'. They don't want to remember how badly they treated the ancestor's of their children's wives, husband's and in-laws. That is one of the reasons they want it changed.

Talked some brother or sister, prolly both, and convinced them that they were upset by the name... when really it was some of that white man's guilt and manipulation motivation (you know how men may not want a woman but because they can, they pull her chain and hit it one more time? Like that) to see if we still get to jumpin' even when we don't know what it is for.

The Jews don't change NOTHING from Nazism to Exodus! Ther remember that stuff as it was, so that it is recognized now and by know what to fight against, it won't happen again (at least not without a hell of a scrap)


See, Huck Finn was taught to me a little differently... it showed me how white men learn to use their privilege to game the system and how they got brothers, native americans, you name it, to let whitey con them and have their backs upon which he stood and took in the benefits of others.

Unless the revolution is televised this digital age brother won't know about Johannesburg without googling it to know where it is at.

We should have it so that our children ask us 'why they call him Nigger Jim' and for parents to be able to explain the dynamic of racisim and what that crap implies... but it seems easier to let white folks tell us what we need to have changed... pretty soon, slavery will be nothing more than a boat trip, lynching just a tree climb, and Ku, Klux, and Klan, our three cousins from the south...

...we forgot to be mad about this stuff... as a Native American what he remembers of the old stories of the white man... it is the younger generations who are detached and let go of what whitey has for a native...

Yeah, I am rambling... but the point isn't that the name needs to be changed... but that as 'descendants' of Jim, that we tell and control his story... not Huck Finn...

CareyCarey said...

Big Mark, on this issue (removal of the name nigger Jim) I have to disagree. Your opinion is the common opinion, but it has little or no merit. To suggest the removal of the word is really about "white man's guilt" and the word can be used as a tool to teach our children the ways of white folks, is, without a doubt, a paper thin argument. Look, removing the word from one book of literture (which by the way, the greatest selling book of all time has gone through hundreds of modification) does nothing to vanquish the word or remove the meaning of the word. Only if a person reads that perticular book, will the removal of the word have any significance what so ever. And to suggest it will affect - IN ANY WAY - or hinder a black childs understanding and history of the words, makes no sense at all.

There are thousands of source material that covers that ground. And more importantly, the word is still being used TODAY. A learning tool?! Learning what?

I am suggesting that some black folks are letting themselves be pimped. On one hand they say don't use the word, but then - following the leads of others - they say, let the word nigger stand. See, this is not about white folks. My question is WHY? Why not remove the word. Who really benefits by leaving the word untouched?

To say the jewish community does not change NOTHING, is totally ambiguous (to say the least) and totally untrue!

BigmacInPittsburgh said...

I see you Carey are preaching to some of your choir members(ME) out here my friend.
I get so frustrated at times,trying to get young and older black folks to understand the dynamics of what its really all about being Black in America.
MANY OF OUR FOLKS HAVE FALLEN FOR THE TRICK THAT RACE AND BLACK CULTURE IS IRRELEVANT.
And have chosen to believe that racism and class-ism is dead.
Keep beating the drum my friend!

uglyblackjohn said...

People get mad at me for collecting those little Black salt and pepper shakers from the '40's and '50's.
I have cookie jars, "Whites Only" signs, lawn jockeys, ... all of it?
(But many Blacks collect those little "All God's Children" figurines.)
Why?
So I can teach my uoung cousins how far they've come and that they have an obligation to do better.

"Nigger Jim" or "Just Jim"?
I don't care.
It has no effect on me.
It doesn't prove that I'm ignorant - it only proves the ignorance of those who use the term.
Younger people read those books and say, "Damn, white people can be stupid.".

Maxine said...

Hey Carey - I read this back in the day. You underestimate me.

Struggling to finish your poem. And chance of an update on Carey Jr?

Carey II - a [poem]


at any given time / the
fastest man on earth / is almost
always black
bt this is not a tale
about the world/s fastest men
this is about a father
who fears his son / won't
run fast enough

the world/s fastest men / they
don’t need
a poet/s pen
this is about the false starts / the fifty metre mark / the finish line mirage / collapsing before the end
this is about carey jr
the child of a friend
about those of us
without a scholarship to school
not sharp enough
not black enough
too black / too fat
to run track / refusing to
play ball
this is a tale
about life as steeple chase
hurdles high / as riker walls
this is carey jr
it is not a tale at all...

CareyCarey said...

Hi Maxine,

You'll have to help me out... I underestimate you? Justing asking.

RE: Carey II - a [poem]

Little Carey (and there's 3 of us -Carey's) my son is doing okay. Background: He was running from his problems, but I found him in another state. He had to pay the pier, and made to serve a liitle time. He's out, looking good and moving forward, but not without struggles. It's hard to find a job, let alone find a job as a black man with a "record". On top of that, this is really a strange world for him, not only because of his conviction, but because he has decided to leave alcohol in his past. It was his friend, lover and trusted companion, but now he realizes it was a love that didn't love him back. So life can be very difficult, boring and confusing, when drama, mess, and other fools are removed from our lives. That's strange I know, but time... too much time, without a passion or a lover can be a mystical place. And sometimes there's a baffling urge to go back to what we knew and did best, even though we know it will destory us. So in essence, we are walking hand in hand, THROUGH the storm, and we're not looking back. I know my mind is a little more at ease. And, as you know, I've been to many of the mental and physical places he's visiting, and has visited, so I know this can be overcome.


I love the flow of the poem. I surely do!

If it's any help, I am thinking a finishing note (including some of the above information) could include "acceptance", "courage" and "hope". There's a saying that goes, "call those things that are not, as if they already are", and then follow that path.

Thanks, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the story, as only you can do. I am honored to be yo friend.

MAXINE said...

Thanks Carey - that's a great help. And very glad to hear the running has stopped.

M said...

Oh, and the understimation? Thinking I'm not blog lurking just cause I'm quiet :)