A Different View
The 1932 Award winner was Waterless Mountain (1931) by Laura Adams Armer. The issue of who can or should write about other cultures was thoughtfully addressed in this coming-of-age story about a Navaho boy. Younger Brother saw things that others in his community didn’t. The Navaho were portrayed as attuned to Nature’s countless blessing. So far, I’m eager for more.
Reading Roxane Gay’s essays has been a push-me-pull-you effort. She hit the nail on the head about violence against women and racist habits. But. Her valid complaints are hard to read. In, “The Solace of Preparing Fried Foods…” she wrote about an incident in which a racist “little white lie” cost a Black cleaning woman her job. Gay hated the caricature of the “magical negro” who despite long hours, low pay and harsh conditions had a piety that soothed troubled employers. Crushed her heart to “cardiac jerky.” Ouch. In “Surviving Django” she reviled Quentin Tarantino for using the n-word 110 times, as compared to the Roots miniseries which ran almost 10 hours without using it once. She was the only Black person at the movies in all-white audiences who laughed at the wrong things more times than she could stand.
For a bit of perspective: In a lengthy speech on April 16, 1889, at Bethel Literary and Historical Society, orator Frederick Douglass said, “At no period since the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, have the moral, social, and political surroundings of the colored people of this country been more solemn and foreboding than they are this day.” ... “Nature has given me a buoyant disposition.” ... “No man can see the silver lining of a black cloud more joyfully than I. But he is a more hopeful man than I am, who will tell you that the rights and liberties of the colored people in this country have passed beyond the danger-line.” (From Frederic May Holland, Frederick Douglass: The Colored Orator, (1891).
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