Sunday, May 20, 2012

Musings on Coloured People in Literature

At a recent lecture  Mr Tumbridge pointed out that the presence of coloured people in older published Literature who are not given a voice was significant - I didn't catch what about but for myself glad even of the mention. Sort of reminds me of  not seeing any Guyanese of Indian origin in the Newspapers when growing up so when there was one - usually some Brown-noser - it inevitably got my attention.
I was amused at Thackeray's unashamed mention of Sambo - the black servant caricatured in the beginning of Vanity Fair. A few Chapters later, the stockbroker father chides his wife, when she objects to the possibility of the scheming, lower-life Becky Sharp becoming her future daughter-in-law: " better she, my dear, than a black Mrs Sedly, and a dozen of mahogany children." (Son stationed in India)  Having grown up in Guyana where a distinction was made between the two major races, I smiled as I recalled my surprise at how we and everyone non-white were lumped together as 'black' in the eyes of the English in 1975 but later in 1983 there started to be a distinction of 'Asian'.
So I started 'One Thousand and One Nights' - thanks Project Gutenberg - and a few stories in-- apparently the  worse thing was - finding your chief wife and/or members of your Harem being serviced by the Black Slaves!!  Wow, middle-Eastern men as well as Occidental men feel threatened by Black Men? And is it that they are projecting their sexual insecurities and assuming Black men are better in bed - maybe the poor Black Men after being on the bottom Rung of the ladder of Success developed a more emphatic sympathy with the women and made better Lovers? I remember being furious reading about an inhibited man in Andrea Levy's 'Small Island' going off to India and feeling the freedom to explore his sexual desires with the native women- where presumably they didn't count but it didn't change his narrow-mindedness when he returned to London and I was glad the writer had him cuckolded with a Black Man.

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