Tag Archives: slavery

ALVIN S. SIMPLETON SAYS LANGUAGE POLICE WON’T QUIT

I grew up hearing the word “nigger” from relatives and friends, but I knew when the word came out of the mouth of a White person, it was offensive and meant that person was probably a racist.

Still, I oppose eliminating the word from the dictionary, as some people advocated at one time.

Now a Mark Twain scholar and a publisher have joined forces to publish a new edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A new edition the American classic is always welcomed but not the edition they are publishing.

You see, the scholar replaces the word “nigger” with the word “slave” because nigger is hurtful and offensive. Apparently some parents and teachers have complained and some schools no longer teach the novel.

I wonder when the novel is taught using the word slave will the parents, teachers, and children be less offended and less hurt once they understand the history of slavery in America. Many White folks deny slavery through its absence in their ideas of their heritage. Replacing the word nigger with slave allows the White folks to say, as some have said in the past, slavery wasn’t so bad.

As for Black folks. I ask you will you be any less hurt reading the word “slave” knowing what the word entails.

The word “nigger” in “Huck Finn” is in keeping with the language of the time the novel depicts. Most important, “nigger” clearly emphasizes the way the nation saw Blacks—slaves and free blacks—in the 19th century and extending into the 21st.

To remove or replace words in a classic is crime against literature; to teach the new edition to young people is a sin against history.

 

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Filed under American classic, American Government, children, Colleges, Education, History, intolerance, LIFE, News, police, race, Racism, society

ALVIN S. SIMPLETON SAYS CALL ME NEGRO

Well, it’s Black History Month once more, and we Black folks have got a lot to be upset bout. For one thing, is Black History Month still relevant? And another thing, why are all the folks adopting Black Haitian children White?

But what’s bothering me right now is some Black folks all over the census bureau for including the word “Negro” as a descriptive category on the census form. It seems they think the word is demeaning, which puts it on a level with the word that is truly demeaning. Yes, I’m talking bout “nigger.”

When I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, in my family, we dared not use the word “black” to describe anybody, especially a light-skin person. You see, my family includes both dark and light-skin folks. If my grandmother heard me or one of my cousins call somebody “black,” bam, right up side the head she’d go with anything she had in her strong right hand. It was a long time in the 1960a before I could use “Black” to describe African Americans.

My aunt, my mother’s younger sister, didn’t like the word “Negro” because she said when White folks tried to say it, it sounded like “niggra,” which sounded like that other word. She preferred “colored,” the word polite White folks used.

For most of us, “Negro” was dignified and demanded respect. Notice that it is capitalized. I, too, prefer “African American” or “Black American” these days, but I do not consider “Negro” demeaning given the reason it was used in the past.

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Filed under Africa, American Government, American Politics, census, politics, race, Racism, society

ALVIN S. SIMPLETON CAN’T BELIEVE IT

“You know,” I addressed the group, consisting of the usual three occupants and the Professor who was sitting in the barber chair getting his hair cut. “Slavery is striving in Africa, and it ain’t the white man who is doing.”

Alvin paused in cutting the Professor’s hair. “There you go again bout Africa. Boy, slavery is over, and what you care bout what’s happenin in Africa anyhow?”

Jabo added his ten cents: “Yeah, Louis, you got people like Obama livin in Africa?”

“No, I don’t have people living in Africa, but it is the mother country or rather, the mother continent of all of us, you know, black, white, brown, red, yellow. Anyway, we ought to care about getting rid of slavery wherever it found. Remember, we were once slaves.”

“Yeah,” said Leroy, “from Africa.”

“Well,” said Alvin, “I don’t believe there’s slavery in Africa, especially if no white folks ain’t involved. No, sir, I do not believe it.”

“Look, you jive turkeys,” I tried to explain, “I read in a magazine I get each month called NewAfrican about a woman who had been held as a slave filing a case against Niger for not protecting her from slavery. She won. It seems that the man who held her claimed he was her husband, and the Niger court upheld his claim, even after he had given her a paper showing he had liberated her. But she took her case to the regional court called the Economic Community of West African States, a court 16 countries in West Africa organized to settle disputes.”

The professor woke from his nap in the barber’s chair. “Louis is right about slavery in Africa. Several countries continue to hold persons who don’t belong to their ethnic group as slaves. Slavery in Africa is an old institution. You know, Africans held slaves before the Europeans came.”

“Alright, Professor, I guess I believe you cause you an educated man,” was Alvin’s last word on the subject.

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