AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES 254
April 12, 2011 This was my first day in this class. The class seems engaged in the readings and discussion. I had the opportunity to read all of the introductory material, and found it very informative. Although I have read quite a few books, I seldom have noticed if it was a white or black author. I am familiar, of course, with Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker; these authors have struck me as vibrant, truthful, and insightful. The readings from chapter one, mostly seemed to express hope. They expressed a desire to hand down information. I noticed first that with the first reading of Motherless Child, the text was very primitive and authentic of a new comer to the states. The sounds of the words echo that of someone just learning the language, but the message was very sincere. The Steel Drivin’ Man, was the saddest of the stories. It seemed sad that John Henry saw the light at the end of the tunnel by earning that $50.00 and being able to buy Lucy’s freedom, and create a home with her only to die of exhaustion or a heart attack as he reached his physical goal of outdoing a machine. I found great humor in Stagolee. This story made me want to keep reading. Stagolee was a monster but he was beloved by all. As someone pointed out in class, this might have been the Superman of the time and just folk legend; another story of hope. Regardless, the story held great appeal. As the readings progressed, the language seemed to become more sophisticated. It is possible that the writer was more educated or because the authors oral recitations were corrected to the level of the writers. In all of the stories there was a hidden message or moral. The stories all held an element of sorrow too. There was the illusion of freedom in all the stories. It is clear that the authors longed for freedom more than anything. Freedom not only from slavery, but from the bonds that kept them from having their own identities, families, and homes. The authors put into their stories their desire to relay their histories to their families. These stories make me long for more of the stories that did not make it to print.
APRIL 14, 2011 More discussion in class. I am not sure the students understand the depth of these writings. Heck, I am not sure I understand them; at least not the way the authors intended. I am having trouble getting my head into a black woman’s state of mind; I try, but since I am not black and not there in the period, I don’t think I am getting as much out of the stories as I should. The questions posed at the end of the chapters are great discussion starters. The questions provoke thought. I think I will start looking at the questions before reading the assignments. That way I know what to look for as far as messages, styles, etc. My favorite reading was The Creation by James Weldon Johnson. I think it is my favorite because it is so similar to Genesis in the Bible. It is comfortable reading something with which I am familiar.
Journal Q1: When I read this piece, I felt like I was in a Southern Baptist Church…with a preacher in a white robe in a pulpit. There is a choir softly singing in the background…an “AMEN” and “mmmhmmm” resounding every so often during his sermon. I look about me and see men and women in their Sunday best, beautiful suits, colorful dresses, fancy hats…children dressed to the nines, boys with ties and girls with petticoats and patent leather shoes. Men wearing crisply pressed shirts under shimmery wool blend suits. I see old ladies with their eyes closed and a smiles on their faces, their silver hair telling of their experience. No one here is hearing this for the first time, but they all respond the same way…looks of peace on their faces; knowledge that God is the Creator of All! They all look so…