The other night I was up watching a re-run of The Dave Chappelle Show and the opening skit resonated with me so much so, that even though I was drifting off to sleep I popped right up to fully take in the message which represented what it is we African American writers have been complaining about.
The skit started with Dave explaining that even though he says some pretty outrageous things on his show, there are many more thoughts swirling in his head that his producers and more importantly his sponsors and white audience members would find offensive - simply because he is black.
So to get around that Dave brought out a beautiful white woman, handed her a set of cue cards where he had written some of his most bizarre thoughts and she proceeded to voice those thoughts through song.
Even though the words that came from her mouth were still Dave’s thoughts and feelings, it was deemed acceptable coming from a white woman.
This is exactly what happened with Kathryn Stockett’s The Help and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees – publishing decided that they could take these stories that were essentially stories of the Black experience and deem them acceptable titles to be marketed to black, but more importantly to the larger, whiter reading audience and not just because they were written by white women, who were writing from a place of white privilege (outside looking in) but because those white women were able to deliver stories about the black experience minus the “grit and edge” which most often brings about feelings of “white guilt.”
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Labels: African American writers, Dave Chappelle, Kathryn Stockett, The Help, writer