Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Truth About Uncle Tom

 

Uncle Tom has a legacy rich in racism and is a derogatory term applied to blacks who “sellout.” Sambo is also rich in racism and is a derogatory term. Historically, these two have been used interchangeably although they are not the same. These two are so intertwined in modern society and so incorporated into our language I am not sure they can ever be separated. It will be difficult to view them as anything other than names used to describe black people who betray other black people. (Think Tom Dubois on the social and political television comedy Boondocks.)

In this post, I will give some background on the Coon, the Sambo, and the Uncle Tom and reveal the truth on how Tom was not the sellout we have made him out to be.

Let’s start with the Coon caricature. The name is an abbreviation of the word Racoon so that the name alone is dehumanizing. The prototype for the coon caricature was Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, known by his stage name as Stepin Fetchit. His signature was that he was the world’s laziest man. He was always sleepy, his eyes low and his speech slow. He took minutes just to complete simple sentences. A scene of him laying in bed in pajamas taking three whole minutes to answer the phone and then another whole minute to say “hello” is what could be expected of his stage performances. The idea behind the coon was that he acted like a child although he was an adult. Stepin Fetchit also tap danced (hence “step it”) so that “Perry epitomized the mumbling, shuffling, buck-eyed buffoon who acted like he didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.” (BlackThen)

Stepin Fetchit manifested what racists whites thought of blacks and became one of the top paid black entertainers of his time.

The Sambo was portrayed as lazy, easily frightened, and chronically idle, an inarticulate buffoon. While the Coon was considered an adult who acted like a child, the Sambo was not considered an adult but was depicted as a perpetual child incapable of living as an Independent adult. What is important to note about the Sambo and the Coon was that they were born from names applied to the characteristics of real people. This is important to remember when we get to Uncle Tom. A stereotype is created when a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular person or thing applies to an entire group of people. Perry was certainly a buffoon, the real-life version of the coon but to refer to all so-called African Americans as coon is what created the stereotype.

I’m just going to sit this here…

The Sambo caricature was born from enslaved blacks who were so loyal and dedicated to the slave owner they would betray their own people. The characteristics of the Sambo really did (and does) exist. “Stereotypes are “cognitive structures that contain the perceiver’s knowledge, beliefs, and expectations about human groups” (Peffley et al., 1997, p. 31). These cognitive constructs are often created out of a kernel of truth and then distorted beyond reality (Hoffmann, 1986). Racial stereotypes are constructed beliefs that all members of the same race share given characteristics. These attributed characteristics are usually negative (Jewell, 1993).” The Coon and Sambo stereotypes contain kernels of truth. There really were blacks who were happy and willing to betray, and completely aid in the destruction of their own people.

(Notice that “Acting white” is not part of the characteristic of the Sambo or Coon. The thing that made the Sambo and Coon an embarrassment and disgrace to the race was their loyalty to those who oppressed them, their betrayal of their brethren and their willingness to make a fool of both themselves and their people. Being intellectual, prompt, professional, and well spoken are not traits that “belong” to “white” people and certainly had nothing to do with these stereotypes. It’s actually the opposite. Racists at that time did not want blacks to read, write, display characteristics of dignity and esteem and professionalism. They wanted to portray them as ignorant, foolish, and childish.)

Uncle Tom

While the Sambo and Coon caricatures fit this description, Uncle Tom was not the same and it would take an entirely different post to look into how he became associated with these caricatures. For now, let’s see who he really was.

Again, stereotypes come from kernels of truth. Just as Lincoln Perry was the epitome of the Coon, and sellout blacks were the real-life Sambos, the fictionalized story of the Uncle Tom was inspired by a man named Josiah Henson.

Josiah Henson

Josiah was an author, abolitionist, minister, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s inspiration for Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Henson’s father was whipped, got his ear cut off, and was sold south after hitting a white man who tried to rape his wife. Henson never saw his father again, but this gives us insight into Josiah’s character. He became a preacher through memorizing verses although he couldn’t, at the time, read and write. In 1830, Henson ran away with his wife and two youngest children, walking over 600 miles to Canada but he didn’t stop there.

“Henson helped start in 1841 a freeman settlement called the British American Institute, in an area called Dawn, which became known as one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad. Henson repeatedly returned to the U.S. to guide 118 other slaves to freedom. It was a massively dangerous undertaking, but Henson saw a greater purpose than simply living out his life in Ontario, Canada. In addition to his service to the school, Henson ran a farm, started a gristmill, bred horses, and built a sawmill for high-quality black lumber— so good, in fact, that it won him a medal at the first World’s Fair in London ten years later.”


Henson’s life inspired the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Tom displayed the following characteristics:

  • He refused to beat black women
  • He refused to force other black people to pick cotton
  • He took the cotton out of his own bag and put it in other’s bags so those slaves wouldn’t get whipped for not having the proper weight (as you know, the enslaved had to pick a certain amount of cotton or they would be punished.)
  • And he refused to tell where attempted escaping slaves were hiding

Josiah Henson is Uncle Tom. He was not a Coon, and he was not a Sambo. “Uncle Tom,” helped hundreds of enslaved men, women, and children escape North years before the Underground Railroad. He was a good man and a great leader. The truth about Uncle Tom is this:

To refer to blacks who portray characteristics of coons and sell outs as Uncle Toms is a disrespect to Henson’s legacy. To refer to intelligent and well spoken blacks as Uncle Tom’s is actually a compliment.

Henson was no sell out and neither was Tom.


Be sure to check out other Black History Fun Facts on the page here.

Sources

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, paperback edition

Black Then: How Being Ghetto Fabulous Caused Stepin Fetchit to Lose It All
https://blackthen.com/how-being-ghetto-fabulous-caused-stepin-fetchit-to-loses-it-all/

Negative Racial Stereotypes and Their Effect on Attitudes Toward African-Americans

https://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/links/essays/vcu.htm

The Story of Josiah Henson, the Real Inspiration for ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/story-josiah-henson-real-inspiration-uncle-toms-cabin-180969094/

The Coon Caricature

https://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/coon/

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The Poetry Magazine Proof

Featuring Jahkazia, Nia, Nailah, Kiyana, Tehilayah, Khaya, Olayemi, Zerahyah, Tinzley, Kathy , Lisa, and S.R. Graham.

So I come home and look what’s here! The proof for our Poetry Magazine featuring the winners and honorable mentions of last year’s contest. It’s so beautiful! I am happy with the way it came out. It’s thick, sturdy, and colorful! The picture doesn’t do it justice. It looks more like the digital version in how it pops (images are not pixelated! Phew). It’s truly a work of art.

Now, I gotta look through this baby and see if there are any changes that are needed so I’m pushing the release date back to Monday, June 3rd. Both hard copies and digital downloads will be available online and I’ll give you the details for that. Wanna be published in next year’s issue? Be sure to enter this year’s contest and win for the 2020 Edition! We also promote our sponsors in the mag, their business, books or services.

 About LitMag

This Literary Korner Publishing Magazine (LitMag) is an extension of Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contests featuring poems written by the talented authors who have entered and won. We would like to welcome you to the first issue of the Literary Korner Publishing Magazine for poets, releasing Monday, June 3, 2019. Inside you’ll meet our Grand Prize Winner, Runner-Ups, and Honorable Mentions. You’ll also read an inspiring article from one of our sponsors and get a look at some phenomenal books to check out! Each year, we will publish a new issue featuring the winning poets of the previous year. This year (2019), we introduce you to the winners of our 2018 contest and next year, you’ll meet the winners of this year’s contest in our 2020 edition.

This year’s contest is officially open to entries!

Be sure you are following this blog for updates. 

Click on the link below for full details on entering, prizes, and all that jazzz! (*new fav word haha*)

 

>>>Enter the 2019 Poetry Contest!<<<

Don’t Overpay to Play

I posted this message to my IG this morning and I thought I would post it here as well. I have added more bullet points after realizing how much this also applies to Indie Authors and our writing careers as well as real life advice.

  • Don’t go broke to sit at someone else’s table. Make sure that what you put your money into is worth the investment and not something you are doing to be seen. If you’ve ever observed me in person, you’ll notice I am quiet and laid back. I am not there to see what I can get. I am there to listen, to learn, and to connect so that when I go home, I can implement and apply. The other obvious meaning is, make sure your immediate needs are met before you play. Are your bills paid? Is your family fed? What can you realistically afford? I know social media has made entrepreneurship look glamorous but in real life people have day jobs and responsibilities. People are not winning everyday. Don’t be out here trying to prove a point. Take care of the most important things first.

 

  • “Don’t overpay to play,” also means to me not to overcompensate in the efforts to prove to people who you are. Sometimes I do this. I have a good heart. This is what I know about myself to be true and there’s nothing worse than people not seeing that. What I’ve realized, though, is that I can’t control how other people see me and I can’t “overpay to play” with them. People will see different versions of you depending on who they are, how they feel about themselves, and their philosophy in life. If you try too hard to prove you are a good person it will only come across as fake. Just be who you are, do what you do, and let the chips fall where they may. I also think it’s just as important to realize that we all have traits about us that are not positive. This is important. A person who understands both his strengths and weaknesses is a strong person. A person who can identify his weaknesses without pointing out the weaknesses of others is a stronger person. Realize that you are not 100% together and that people don’t have to like you.

 

  • New Indie Authors, don’t overpay someone to publish your book just because you’re desperate to see it in print. Overpaying could mean a different price depending on each individual’s budget but anything over the $5,000 point is steep. Don’t overpay to play author. While I am not a Traditional Publisher, the traditional publishing route is still a good option if you want the traditional publicity. While many Self-Publishers have gone on to have movies made from their books and have made millions from their books, there are many aspiring authors who are looking to be published traditionally but are not patient enough to go through the process. As a result, they overpay small Indie Publishers to do for them what they could have probably done for themselves. For example, don’t fall for someone promising to make you an Amazon Best Seller. To non-writers, family, and friends it may seem like a big deal and while commendable (I would never downplay anyone’s hard work), it’s not exactly the same as being a New York Times Bestseller. Amazon’s rankings are controlled by algorithms. In other words, computers. Any spike in sells (even if it’s just 5 books sold) can shoot a book ranking up. Sometimes all it takes to be an Amazon Best Seller is to sell 10 copies of your book on the same day. It’s not the same as outselling all the other books in your genre. I’m sorry but it’s the truth and this deception is not only bringing down the value of being a true Best Seller, but is starting to become a red flag to those who actually know how the system works.  I applaud anyone who has become a #1 Amazon Best Seller but I caution you not to pay for it. You can become an Amazon Best Seller on your own. It’s not worth $5,000.

 

  • This advice reminds me of the importance of boundaries, limits to where I’ll go. There must be a line that reminds you of your integrity, where you are not willing to go, no matter the circumstances or the price tag because your moral compass will not allow you to. “Don’t overpay to play,” also means to me, “remember your worth.” If you don’t have this mental limit in your mind you will sell out in whatever way it means to sell out. Boundaries go far beyond personal limitations but extend to our livelihoods as well.

The 32nd Year: A Reflection

I am in the 32nd year of my life journey even though the gray in the front of my locs won’t let me be great. I just had a birthday (5/26) and I am usually quiet around this time. (And yes, I do admit this is my pitiful way of explaining why *aside from author Interviews* I have not been very active on this blog). But while I have not spoken much about it or posted many pictures, I enjoyed myself and I cannot say enough how much I appreciate the outpouring of love from social media.

Like I would expect anyone to be, I am always excited about my birthday and pretty much think about it up until the day passes, though I am also usually quiet around this time because I also approach birthdays from a reflective point of view. I don’t celebrate holidays, but I do honor, acknowledge, and value birthdays. It’s not something I take for granted or shrug off as a non-important since this is the day when the power of all powers decided I was worthy of entering the world. Stitching me together in my mother’s womb and commanding it to hold me there until it was time to give birth.

Another birthday means another year has passed. I am quiet because I look back on the past year to see how I’ve grown and to be grateful for who I am, where I am and whose I am. I review my goals and the action steps needed to accomplish them. Am I moving or standing still? And if I am moving and if I am standing still is this reality or perception? I know that there is no greater deception than self-deception so it’s important to me to honestly and realistically reflect on my life, my progress, and my purpose since I do not intend to bring last year’s baggage into this new age. It’s important to me to see the good in the finished and the unfinished work. To be grateful for where I am and celebrate on the way to where I am going. Have I wasted a year, or have I taken full advantage of every day? There is much to think about and much to do.

I do not know what this year has in store for me, but I hope I can take full advantage of the day so that next year I can look back on today and know that I have done my very best to contribute to the forward movement of the world.

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author K. McCoy

What is your name and where are you from?

My name is K. McCoy, and I am from Fort Myers, FL.

What’s your favorite color?

My favorite is blue.

What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?

I would have to say that the most difficult thing about being a writer is finding time to take care of all the other things that help me with sharing my written work and meeting my scheduled deadlines. The most exciting thing about being a writer is hearing how people interpret my work once I have shared it.

Available now on Amazon and Smashwords

I love that part also. It’s fascinating how people can have different views on the work. Why is writing important to you?

Writing is one of my strongest outlets – my favorite creative releases. It’s part of my therapy, to be able to share my thoughts with others through storytelling. That is why writing is important to me.

What do you love about yourself?

My quirkiness is what I love most about myself. Took a long time before I could say that outloud, but it’s true.

Got it. What kind of music do you like?

I like almost every genre of music, but lately I have been listening to Lo-fi the most.

Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?

Learn how to protect your peace in a peaceful way. By that I mean, learn to recognize and acknowledge behavior that may prevent you from flourishing – from being around people who do not have good intentions, overworking your physical self, to questioning habits (internally and/or externally) that you have personal and discussing how to process and handle them. Essentially, do no harm, but take no shit.

I like that! I’m gonna have to borrow that one.

A friend of mine says it at the end of her podcasts (Angela Page, Love Your Rebellion).

“Do no harm, but take no sh*t.”

– Angela Page

K, outside of writing, what are some of your passions?

Singing and learning other languages are a few of my passions outside of writing.

Oh cool. Are you bilingual? If so, what other languages do you speak? If not, what other languages would you like to speak?

I wish that I was bilingual! At the moment, I speak a little conversational Spanish and Korean. I would really like to learn more about both languages, as well as Afrikaans and Creole.

Korean, nice! What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?

A small studio, within the perfect distance away yet near a beach. With plenty of windows that let lots of sunshine in and full of intricate and inspiring artwork from my friends.That also comes with a cleaning service, a fully stocked fridge of water and healthy food. As well as a list of take out locations too!

That’s nice. What job do you think you’d be really good at?

I think that I would make a great Music History curator. Especially if I got the chance to study more of World Music!

What skill would you like to master?

I would love to master learning different languages so that I can become a polyglot.

That’s interesting. What kind of environment or situation do you think will benefit ones usage of several languages?

I feel that I would benefit by being able  to connect more with my bilingual and polyglot friends as well as travel to more places in the world more comfortably with the use of several languages.

In your own words, what is love?

Love is universal acceptance of all things. Abundance of happiness that you welcome into your life to make better, not whole.

Are we to accept all things though? What about the not-so-good things in the world, are there any limitations? Does love have limits?

No, we do not have to accept all things, in my opinion. To protect our peace and to not cause harm to others, there must be limitations. The idea that love can have no limits is a fairy tale at best. I feel that love does have limits. It must, in order to save us from ourselves.


Copyright ©2019, K. McCoy.

Bio

K. McCoy wants to live in a world where indie vinyl record shops can be found in every city and sweets don’t come with so many calories. As an Independent Author, she is now putting the finishing touches on her first novelette, MAGIX, which will be released this year. Her stories are those of awkward cute meets, sassy women who take no ish, and sweet declarations and discoveries of love. Her poetry covers mental health, self-love, body positivity, and quirky traits that are to be celebrated.

When she is not baking or playing cards against Humanity with her friends, you can find her writing down new ideas and concepts somewhere sunny or discovering new music on online.

Be Sure to Follow this Author Online!

You can find out how to connect with her more by visiting her on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, YouTube, and WordPress as @krealmccoy.

Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE.

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Laura DiNovis Berry

 

What is your name and where are you from?

I’m Laura DiNovis Berry and I grew up in Lititz, PA, a town that once had its own chocolate factory and now draws famous musicians in.

Yess to chocolate. What genre do you write in, why?

I primarily write poetry. I dabble in short stories, but poetry is like painting with words and there’s something about verse that constantly drives me to keep pushing myself to improve in that arena.

Got another poet in the house ya’ll. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

I self-published my first poetry chapbook, Bright Pink Ink, right before my wedding last year. It was extremely liberating. I was planning a wedding and a move from Pennsylvania to Texas so having the ability to channel some of my frustrations and nerves into that book provided me with a fantastic stress reliever.

Congrats on the book AND wedding! Laura, are you employed outside of writing?

I am! I have had the pleasure of working and learning from a wide variety of jobs. Currently I work as a Drama Teacher and work with children all the way from kindergarten up to high school. On the whole, it has been a wonderful experience.

I love teaching children. What’s the best thing about working with children?

There is nothing like working with human beings who have only been alive for a few years!

Awwue. Right?

Their take on everything is fascinating. They can be exceptionally mean and fabulously kind – the reminder that they are still learning how to function in this world is sobering, but makes me feel extremely privileged to be a part of that growth. It can also result in some hilarious situations like having the kids be convinced that your hair is a wig since you’ve cut it short. I had to let my class of six year old tug on it to verify.

Available now on Amazon.

I understand also you write free poetry book reviews? Tell us about that.

I do! Book reviews are desperately needed in the poetry community so I created Berry’s Poetry Book Reviews last year. This is a platform for poets so they may reach out to a broader audience! The reviews I provide are free but I donate 10% of of my earnings and donations from patrons to a non-profit organization every year. Last year the beneficent of of these program was the Kennett Square Garage & Youth Center, an after school program which aims to empower middle and high school youth. This year, our combined efforts will be helping Lambda Literary!

Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?

Rugby has had a grip on me since college. Right now I play with the Corpus Christi Clams Women’s Rugby Club. I will be moving soon, sadly, but I have actually begun working on a full poetry collection inspired by the female rugby player’s experience so I don’t think I’ll be able to stop playing any time soon!

Alright now so we got another book in the works. If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?

My husband would sniff at this, but there’s a very good chance it would end up looking like an earth witch’s hobbit hole.

Whaat.

It would be warm, cozy and lead out into a garden filled with vegetable, guarded by maple trees.

Okay that sounds better. Scared us there a moment. What skill do you think you’ve mastered?

Oh, that’s easy. The skill of being ridiculous.

Lol. Care to explain? What’s ridiculous about you?

Well, I am generally known to be silly – it is not an uncommon occurrence for me to start dancing…wherever really. I like to have a good time and make people laugh.

Yea, laughing is lit. Does blogging help you to write?

It does and it doesn’t. It helps in the sense that I practice different forms of writing (more journal-esque writing), but it hurts because I distract myself from working on my poetry.

Understood. Laura, life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?

Exercise – it doesn’t even have to be anything intense. Just the other night my husband and I were in, not quite a fight, let’s say more of a spat, but walking – taking a nice walk outside together – really helped both of us calm down and better engage with each other.

Nice. What do you love about yourself?

My parents once said I don’t know the concept of failure, and I think that is definitely something that I love about myself.

Thank you Laura for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Bio.

Laura DiNovis Berry recognizes that poetry is a near magical craft that she will never fully understand but will forever be held in fascination by it. When she is not working on her own poetry, she provides free book reviews for her fellow contemporary poets.

Be Sure to follow this author Online!

Twitter – @poetryberry
Instagram – @berryspoetryreviews

Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE.

3rd Annual Poetry Contest 2019: Tips and Best Practices

poetry contest


We are so excited to meet all the amazing poets who will be entering this year’s contest! Prizes include a $50 Barnes and Noble gift-card, promotion, and publishing in our 2nd Edition, 2020 Poet Magazine. Below are some tips and best practices for bettering your chances of winning this contest! (For the video version of this post, go to my IG account and watch the EcTV version!)

  1. Read the rules (CLICK HERE FOR THIS YEAR’S GUIDELINES)

 

  1. Make sure your poem lines up with the theme surrounding one of these words: Strength, Courage, Wisdom, Faith (Read the rules).

 

  1. To qualify as entry you MUST subscribe to my email list. CLICK HERE to sign up. Then, go ahead and send your poem to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com. Don’t rush to write your poem and forget to sign up for the email list. Last year’s winner got her poem in just before the deadline and won the entire competition so take your time and do it right. The best way to remember is to sign up for the email list first and then spend the rest of the time writing your poem. (Read the rules)

 

  1. Deadline for entry is August 1st. Winners announced November 1st. (Read the rules)

 

  1. Poems are judged based on ORIGINALITY, style, and how closely it relates to the theme. Poems cannot be previously published in a book or online and plagiarism is cause for immediate elimination.

 

  1. Pay Attention to the theme: If you submit a poem that is not about Strength, Courage, Wisdom, or Faith in some capacity you put yourself at risk for elimination. Why? Because poems that don’t follow the rules are one of the first to go. My team has to read through a lot of poems and you don’t wanna make it easier for them to disqualify you by not…following the rules.

For a full list of the rules, guidelines,

and prizes CLICK HERE.