Reviews and Br'er Rabbit
"Jørgen Andreas Bangor"
jorgenb at ifi.uio.no
Tue Feb 29 23:59:31 CET 2000
I've now sent a review of # 8. Then I'll go backwards - and forwards...
I've heard about this censoring of Br'er Rabbit stories earlier, but
I'm still just as puzzled about it's reason.
| For the last several decades Brer Rabbit stories have generally been
| considered politically incorrect in the USA, due to being offensive to
| many black people.
Offensive to many black people. Ok.
| The original stories date from a time when there was strong discrimination
| in this country,
Dating from a time with strong discrimination. Ok.
| and the characters were seen as mimicking black people's speech and
| behavior (and therefore a sign of disrespect).
The characters are mimicking black people's speech and behavior. Ok.
What Sonia says is exactly the same as what I've heard before, so I
understand that these reasons actually are why the stories are not
published anymore. Still, it doesn't make sense to me.
Now, if these stories are describing black people as of lesser value,
intellingence or whatever, than people of other races, then I can
understand that they are being offended by them. The thing is, I don't
understand why they automatically would be offended by the reasons Sonia
The characters are mimicking black people's speech and behavior - which
makes them seen as "black people" (although being rabbits etc.). Is
this in itself offending?
The stories originated in a period of strong discrimination. By simple
reasoning, the characters in the stories are then identifiable with
discriminated people, and can be assigned the same "low values". Or at
least, they could be at the time the stories were made. Can they still?
My point is that the context the stories now would be published in (if
they were) is much different from the original context. Is it possible
for a child who reads the stories now, to see that they once pictured
a race of "lower value"?
And in a similar way, "Hiawatha" stories (or any stories with Indians)
are banned in the US, just because Indians could be offended by seeing
comic characters mimicking Indians.
It just doesn't make sense to me. I do understand that both black
Americans and Indians have a tough history behind them, but have this
weakened them to such extent that they can't bear to see a black or
an Indian comic character? I would appreciate an answer to this.
And another question, just because I'm curious. Being white, I have no
problem with identifying myself with Donald Duck and all his everyday
problems. Do black people (or people of any other race) indentify with
him just as easily? I mean, I regard him as white, but being a feathered
duck, the skin colour is sort of irrelevant.
And David said:
| ...we produced and published our own new Brer Rabbit stories until
| recently, but we stopped making them lately because we found our readers
| were tired of them.
I can't imagine why... Silly, short stories where the rabbit did nothing
else than making the bear and the fox fall in a pond or something like
that. There is a limit for how many times one can read that story and
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