The collective tears of those who cry for justice like karmic rain gently pitter patted on the window where Nikko and little Raye lay. They had gotten home late last night to Las Vegas, after a short flight from Tucson. It was raining lightly as they touched down at the airport. Nikko had several messages on her message machine. She ended up returning several calls, while little Raye watched a movie. The little girl was pretty wound up, and cried herself to sleep. She missed her daddy. She did not want to be away from her father. He was so sad. They awoke at mid morning to a rare rain storm. Las Vegas was usually rain free, but the monsoon rains could catch you unawares; if you were not familiar with it. Nikko wanted to get out of Las Vegas in the worst kind of way. They didn’t drink, smoke, or gamble. So the typical attractions, was not attractive at all, at least not to them. She was going to call her husband after making Raye breakfast, to see how he was holding up. Seeing her husband so distraught, after his father died, had her emotionally in a twist.
Nikko had a lot on her mind now,
with finals coming up next week.
Nikko was attending college in
Las Vegas. She was majoring in American literature.
Her professor gave the class the assignment to select a book, any book that dealt with, and was considered an American classic, or of great literary significance. Her search took her to the campus library, without success. She wanted a forgotten classic, something she, and perhaps everyone else had not read as of yet. She next searched the internet, and the many libraries of Las Vegas. Still no luck. As it turned out, she discovered one of this countries greatest masterpieces, of all places; at a garage sale. It was entitled,
“A treasury of American folklore.
It was the stories, legends, tall tales, traditions, ballads, and songs of the American people.”
She had read the inside flap of the book cover to her class. It read: “For the first time the great wealth of folklore of the United States has been samples for good reading and human interest. The result is a magnificent collection of material never before brought together in one place, a book every American will enjoy and treasure.”
The copyright was 1944.
This particular edition was the twenty sixth printing, dated,
Her favorite chapters of the book,
was the negro section. They’re several songs that made Nikko laugh; the lyrical content was so ridiculous to her.
One was entitled, “Massa had a yaller girl.” Another was, “I’m going to Alabamy.” Her favorite though, was the classic American song,
“Run, nigger run.”
As Nikko began to peel back the many layers of the malignant tumor that was American folklore, she was beginning to comprehend the insidious, and psychoactive nature; that saturated the white vernacular. After just fifty some years, after the twenty sixth printing of this American classic, she was precocious enough to ascertain, that racism in America, in all it’s rancid variations, was more; much more, than just learned behaviors.
It was American folklore.
Nikko had the opportunity to read excerpts to her professor, and those in the class.
She thought it ironic that in several previous discussions on the topic of race, the majority of her classmates, were of the strong opinion that black people, and the indigenous peoples of the continent in general, we’re either
overly sensitive, and or only imagined racism and prejudice.
Nikko had heard those proponents of diversionary ambiguity, too many times to count. In the workplace, on the street, on the news, in school, in churches, in print, commercials, videos, and the Internet as well.
However subtle or subliminal it was implied in presentation, or not, Nikko understood; once words were written, it was hard to walk away from.
Several of her classmates scoffed at the notion that American folklore, and racism were related by blood. Nikko countered by reading the opening introduction of the book, which said: “What comes through in folklore is often in violent contradiction of our modern social standards. It is the essential viciousness of our folk heroes, stories, expressions, and especially in their treatment of minorities; Negroes, Mexicans, Chinese etc.”
It concluded by saying,
customs, and practices,
the mind skills,
that have been handed down
so long that they seem
to have a life of their own,
a life that cannot be destroyed
by print but that constantly has to get back to the spoken word
to be renewed; all this for want of a better word, is folklore.”
The entire class became suddenly quiet.
She realized their insolent silence was as a result of not really wanting to understand, or accepting the truth about their dark history. After all, these were young sheltered minds, eighteen to twenty somethings. Nikko was the oldest student in the class. At the age of twenty nine she was comfortable expressing herself more perspicuously, and she had the life experience to know that life; extended much further beyond the end of these youngster’s,
pointy little privileged noses.
They did not seem to fully comprehend the concept, that their history form and shape their various view points, and attitudes. People today primarily concerned themselves with social media, career, phones, partying, laptops, sex, cars, money, and fashion.
To speak of the past was like talking about a child with severe autism. You know it’s true, but you just didn’t want to talk about it. People wanted to talk about happy things. Reality had been relegated to television programs, except of course when tragedy strikes close to home. As Nikko flipped through the pages of the decrepit book, she could feel the breath of hate exhaling on her face; reminding her that fear and hatred had deep roots. Roots that remained entrenched; alive and well in 2016.
Historic roots that thrived,
and had morphed in the land
of the free, and the home
of the brave.
Nikko knew there was nothing in this life that was free.
That old book smell
would forever remind