‘To expect a white teacher to place unusual interest in a stubborn delinquent Negro youth is like expecting a peacock to exhibit a great interest in an unpretentious chicken’

16 Nov

My father argued that black students would be better served by having black teachers who are more likely to “exhibit greater sympathy and interest in them.”  He added that “white teachers who openly carry that air of superiority over this darker race of ours should not be included on staffs of schools where the students are Negroes; neither should those who think that all Negro girls are ‘cut out’ to be maids and nurses  — for other people’s children, and that Negro boys will get little further than manual labor. . . “To expect a white teacher to place unusual interest in a stubborn delinquent Negro youth is like expecting a peacock to exhibit a great interest in an unpretentious chicken. That white superiority complex is there, whether you think so or not and an already acquired knowledge further enhances it over those who seem less inclined to reach a similar position. “

Ebenezer also riffs on the 1934 version of  Imitation of Life. He called it an “imitation of a certain type of life  — particularly foreign to me. A white woman is so sympathetically interested in her Negro business partner’s personal troubles she goes out with her in quest of a solution. Yet that white woman rides alone in the rear seat of the car, while her Negro partner rides in front with the chauffeur. The acting is good, otherwise  — to hell with it!”

The New York Age, February 2, 1935

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2 Responses to “‘To expect a white teacher to place unusual interest in a stubborn delinquent Negro youth is like expecting a peacock to exhibit a great interest in an unpretentious chicken’”

  1. Elaine Ray November 21, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    I watched the 1959 Lana Turner version of “Imitation of Life” this weekend. I like the character of Annie Johnson in this one. She was much smarter and sophisticated than her 1934 counterpart. I loved the clothes and the color, but I liked Claudette Colbert’s character better in 1934 than I did Lana Turner’s. I had seen both of these films at some point before, but thanks Dad for reintroducing them to me.

  2. Elaine Ray November 16, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    I watched the 1934 version of “Imitation of Life” today. I agree with Ebenezer that the the acting was good in that melodramatic 1930s kind of way. Fredi Washington, who played Peola was perfect as the tragic mulatto, even though she wasn’t on screen that much. Claudette Colbert and Rochelle Hudson were great. Louise Beavers was a little hard to take, but that had more to do with the way the character was written  — she had no dignity  – than her performance. Now I’ll watch the 1959 version.

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