Dumbass Diaries part 7

Dumbassery is dumbassery…even when it’s among my own people

Author and artist Faith Ringgold has managed to tick off a New York mother with her children’s book, Counting to Tar Beach. I know that certain images of black folks have been perpetuated ad naseum, and have had many a progressive non-Black person come under fire for displaying them as a “joke” (various Twitpics of white kids in costume with blackface or brownface and wild Afros come to mind), but often in our zeal to cry “Hidden (or Blatant) Racism” we tend to forget to apply context. The book in question is a sequel to Ringgold’s award-winning Tar Beach, the title references the blacktop roof the family “escapes” to enjoy an outing in the Harlem summer…in 1939. Yeah, yeah….watermelon, fried chicken and cornbread is often the diet in Black oriented movies to an exaggerated degree, and I get that…but, and let me say it loudly and clearly so that it’s understood, IT’S HARLEM IN NINETEEN-FREAKING-THIRTY-NINE. What were they supposed to picnic with, sushi and Evian?

I applaud my people’s activism and vigilance to continuing to uplift our image….but c’mon, son! You know the phrase, “Those who refuse to learn their history are doomed to repeat it”? This is a part of our history–nobody is lying about this, this is the stuff we ate regularly. And, I might add *pssst* asphalt is made from tar. Has nothing to do with anybody’s skin color or anything like that. I would think we have enough problems as a people without picking each other apart for perceived slights and slurs.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Yvette Porter Moore
    Jan 28, 2012 @ 00:31:19

    I was given this book from Faith herself. I love it. My mother was born and raised in Harlem 1926 to the 1950’s and lots of the family photo’s is of family on the roof tops in the summer time. They called it Tar Beach. There was no stereotype in the book. Exactly put, those were the things we ate and I am pretty sure that when summer comes around I will be getting some watermelon to go with the potato salad, ribs, chicken, greens, beans and all the other stuff that naturally goes with a cookout. Duh!


  2. Goodness and Grit
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 09:41:17

    Poignant, well written, and I LOVE your point.
    “What were they supposed to picnic with, sushi and Evian?”- BRILLIANT!!!!

    I must read these books! I myself have escaped to a tar roof many an hour to get away, find myself, and absorb some warmth.



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