In 1884, Mark Twain published his masterwork, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." A satirical, subversive tome about the failure of reconstruction and the failure of the United States to come to grips with the lingering question of race. Twain was one of the most powerful and influential writers of his day, but faced resistance from librarians in placing the book on their shelves. The most common canard citied was the books "poor grammar." Primarily the poor grammar used by the novel's two central characters, a poor mistreated white child, "Huck" and an uneducated runaway slave named "Jim."
A black man as the novel's central figure, No, no, no that just won't do. A black man sheltering and caring for a white child, No, no, no that just won't do. Huck Finn is Twain's canvas, where he paints the ugliness and viscous, mean-spirited humbugs of American life.
Jim talked out loud all the time while I was talking to myself. He was saying how the first thing he would do when he got to a free State he would go to saving up money and never spend a single cent, and when he got enough he would buy his wife, which was owned on a farm close to where Miss Watson lived; and then they would both work to buy the two children, and if their master wouldn't sell them, they'd get an Ab'litionist to go and steal them.
It most froze me to hear such talk. He wouldn't ever dared to talk such talk in his life before. Just see what a difference it made in him the minute he judged he was about free. It was according to the old saying, "Give a n-word an inch and he'll take an ell." Thinks I, this is what comes of my not thinking. Here was this n-word, which I had as good as help ed to run away, coming right out flat-footed and saying he would steal his children -- children that belonged to a man I didn't even know; a man that hadn't ever done me no harm.
I was sorry to hear Jim say that, it was such a lowering of him. My conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever, until at last I says to it, "Let up on me -- it ain't too late yet -- I'll paddle ashore at the first light and tell." I felt easy and happy and light as a feather right off. All my troubles was gone. I went to looking out sharp for a light, and sort of singing to myself. ~ The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Trayvon Martin's body lay faced down and the American public questions the character of an unarmed, murdered teenager. Michael Brown its aledged was jaywalking, prompting an altercation with a white policeman, which led to his death. So what has changed in America? An unarmed black man is killed by police and almost automatically, almost reflexively, the American public assumes, he must have done something to deserve being killed. 130 years after Twain's masterpiece, Americans still live in a dream world. The media pounce on factoids, did marijuana in Michael Brown's system cause him to behave erratically? I don't know, does it make Willie Nelson act erratically? Did it make Michael Phelps act erratically, when he won 22 gold medals in the Olympics? Ah, but they're white men aren't they? Ice -- T sings "Cop Killer" and there is a national outrage and Congressional investigations. Eric Clapton sings, "I shot the Sheriff, but I didn't shoot the deputy" and America sings along.
If you're poor in America, you don't stand a f*cking chance, if you're poor and black that goes double. The minions, miscreants and morons shout, what about Black on Black crime? But it's not Black on Black crime; it's poor on poor crime. No one ever called the St. Valentine's Day massacre, Italian on Italian crime or Italian on Irish crime. It isn't racially motivated; it's economically and geographically motivated crime. Gangsterism is a raw form of Capitalism. It is seizing whatever opportunity is a viable, to rise above poverty in a society precluding legitimate social improvement. In the Nazi concentration camps inmate Kapo's guarded the water supply, extorting payment. The strong exploiting the weak, because that is all that Capitalism really is: systemized exploitation.
No one ever called it Jew on Jew crime or inmate on inmate crime: The reason was brutally obvious, death waits around every corner. Your chances of survival in the concentration camp wavering somewhere between slim and none. Your life expectations becoming small, matching you're horizons, you don't think about next month or next year, you think only of surviving tomorrow. For the prisoners locked inside the ghettos of America's inner cities, life isn't much different.
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