“I’d rather make $700 a week playing a maid than earn $7 a day being a maid”.
Hattie McDaniel.
I’m the savage in the jungle and the busboy in the town.
I’m the one who jumps the highest when the Boss man comes around.
I’m the maid who wields the wooden broom.
I’m the black boot polish cheeks.
I’m the big fat Lawdy Mama who always laughs before she speaks.
I’m the plaintive sound of spirituals on the mighty Mississip’.
I’m the porter in the club car touching forelock for a tip.
I’m the bent, white-whiskered ol’ Black Joe with the stick and staggered walk.
I’m the barefoot boy in dungarees with a stammer in my talk.
I’m the storytelling Mr.
Bones with a jangling tambourine.
I’m the North’s excuse for novelty and the South’s deleted scene.
I’m the one who takes his lunch break with the extras and the grips.
I’m the funny liquorice coils of hair and the funny looking lips.
I’m the white wide eyes and pearly teeth.
I’m the jet black skin that shines.
I’m the soft-shoe shuffling Uncle Tom for your nickels and your dimes.
I’m the Alabami Mammy for a state I’ve never seen.
I’m the bona fide Minstrel Man whose blackface won’t wash clean.
I’m the banjo playing Sambo with a fixed and manic grin.
I’m the South’s defiant answer that the Yankees didn’t win.
I’m the inconvenient nigrah that no one can let go.
I’m the cutesy picaninny with my hair tied up in bows.
I’m the funny little shoeshine boy.
I’m the convict on the run; the nigger in the woodpile when the cotton pickin’s done.
I’m a blacklist in Kentucky.
I’m the night when hound dogs bay.
I’m the cut-price, easy light relief growing darker by the day.
I’m the “yessir, Massa, right away” that the audience so enjoys.
I’m the full-grown man of twenty-five but still they call me ‘boy’.
For I’m the myth in Griffith’s movie.
I’m the steamboat whistle’s cry.
I’m the dust of dead plantations and the proof of Lincoln’s lie.
I’m the skin upon the leg iron.
I’m the blood upon the club.
I’m the deep black stain you can’t erase no matter how you scrub.
John Lindley

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