March 20 -- The Vaction Home of Someone's Uncle Thomas
This is ironically hilarious.
Today, in 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an anti-slavery novel that is said to be what led to the Civil War and with it, the end of slavery in America…
What’s so ironic about that?
Well, last week, ESPN aired “The Fab 5” documentary, in which Jalen Rose explained that the 18 year-old Jalen thought that black Duke players were “uncle Toms”
Furthermore, Duke and Michigan – where Jalen played his own college ball – played a game in the NCAA tournament today as well.
So now you can see how this could be both ironic and funny.
Anyway, the book became the best-selling novel of the 19th century. The focus of the story was the fictional Uncle Tom at the center of the story. From there, it explains the cruelties of slavery and presents the hypocrisy of a culture of love (Christianity) nurturing such a culture.
[Phlip note – at least that is how I took it]
Anyway, the story progresses where Tom is sold to a family and befriends their daughter, then becomes closer to the family when he saves the daughter’s life. The time and experience with his new owners, there WAS a promise to free Tom, but he was sold to another owner after his last was stabbed to death and his wife reneges on the promise to free him.
His NEW owner hates him, because Tom – apparently in some kind of managerial role of sorts – refuses to beat his fellow slaves and is himself beaten.
Tom continued to be a good guy in spite of the cards he was dealt. He was complicit in encouraging others to run away and not selling them out when Slavecatchers were dispatched on them. Those catchers would become overseers commissioned to kill him, which they would make good on, and Tom even forgave them on his deathbed.
Note: this is where I find the story a little odd, since we all are taught throughout our lives that an “Uncle Tom” is a sellout to his race, stepping on those like him to get ahead of them with no plans for bringing him with them. Thus far in the story, we’re not seeing this yet.
The book paints Tom as an admirable guy, admired by those duty-bound to do him filthy.
It turns out that the stereotype comes from the stage adaptations 50 years after the book was written, in which White folks had gotten their hands on the property – a short time after the original author had passed – and made him a “yessuh/nosuh” minstrel character instead of the hero he was originally written as… Unfortunately, THAT would be the one that stuck, since people really can’t seem to be bothered to read anymore. It seems that this would be the wont of the people who took umbrage with Stowe’s original rejection of minstrel characters. Ain’t spite a BITCH!?
So there you have it…
Uncle Tom’s cabin, written 159 years ago to the day, and intentions were WAAAAAAY off of what we have since been told that an “Uncle Tom” is.
And here, I wonder about the plight of all the guys named Thomas who have siblings with children.