That’s really what I wanted to do this post on. But there was very little information on the subject, and search engines were unhelpful. In my senior year history class, I remember my very knowledgable history professor tell us that it date back to the tradition of slavery and how plantation owners would, you know, force reproduction, for the point of gaining more slaves. The slaves who were forced into this process were known as “mother-rapers” which, as one could predict, became more explicit.
This, mind you, has no verifiably trustworthy source, just my word of a respectable teacher. Simply food for thought.
Instead, I’m going to have to discuss the rest of this book too. I like, looking forward, the impact that social relations will play. It’s not just that there is racism, but there is also trickery and bribe present. It seems like racism at a level of sabotage under the guise of benefactors is a different kind of hate than discrimination on a basic level.
I think it’s going to be really interesting dissecting the racism, which seems be present throughout Cotton Comes to Harlem in many different ways. There is the basic “no blacks in the white areas” discrimination, but there is also the more nuanced form in which “back to Africa” schemes are staged and direct sabotage is used against them. In this way we have white detectives working to right a wrong performed on a mass of blacks.
Another thing that stood out to me was the idea that the role played by Coffin Ed and Grave Digger seem to be very similar. If I’m not mistaken, Jim Groom told us that this was in fact one role in the movie adaptation.I generally see characters as written in for a reason, but I’m trying to decipher the reason behind these two being separate characters.
Last point. I really like the fact that Himes writes in the vernacular of the time period and location. I enjoy the fact that he isn’t afraid to use the possibly contradictory vocabulary that is a more accurate representation. It also raises the question of narrator, and the type of voice we are being exposed to.