Friday, July 6, 2007
Remember Little Black Sambo
When I was 8 years old, my hero was Little Black Sambo. I even tried to eat 169 pancakes, only to come up 175 short. Even today, I have fond memories of the black caricature that became the arch-negro stereotype.
By the time I reached the 3rd grade, I was tired of reading We Look and See, to the point that I had completely memorized the book. Every year, we received hand-me-down books from the white school district, and every year it was We Look and See. Little Black Sambo was the first new reading book we received at our all-black elementary school. I enjoyed it, because it had big words and told a story.
Recently, I went back and found the original text as I remembered it, at http://www.sterlingtimes.co.uk/sambo.htm. Strange, I love the story of Sambo more now than ever before. I always remember thinking of the four tigers as white people.
What refreshed my memory of Sambo
The recent Supreme Court reversal of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education took me back to the year I was in the third grade and my introduction to Little Black Sambo. I remember the first controversy in school was “being called black”. If you wanted a fight in a segregated elementary school, all you had to do was call someone a “black Sambo”. The issue was not the stereotype. It was the black skin with the big ruby red lips. It was an image thing.
Times Change – Fast Forward
Did the Supreme Court Butcher the Sacred Brown Cow?
Speaking of simplistic tautology: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," said Chief Justice John Roberts.
Well, Duh! Add this, another tautology: It is what it is- speaking of the recent reversal of Brown v. Board of Education.
We all had problems with Brown, and Brown II didn’t fix it. Southern school districts got around the “equal” part of the “Separate but Equal” clause. Instead of providing predominately black schools with equal educational resources, they shut most of them down and phased in busing. We lost our neighborhood schools. Our educators and principals were moved to “upstairs offices” with brick walls for windows, out of sight and out of mind.
So much for the negotiated compromise that has, to date, resulted in a 50% dropout rate for black male teens, 1-in-3 going to prison, low academic performance, and heavy punitive disciplined model customary to controlling slaves rather than pupils. This is not what the African-American community wanted or expected.
TODAY READ: Star-Telegram editorial Kids and Color