Monday, April 6, 2009

Langston Hughes - The Gun

Picture yourself a lone bird in a cage with monkeys, or the sole cat in a kennel full of dogs. Even if the dogs became accustomed to you, they wouldn’t make the best of playmates; nor could you, being a cat, mate with them, being dogs. Although, in the little town of Fall Rock, Montana, the barriers were less natural than artificial (entirely man-made barriers, in fact), nevertheless, to be the only Negro child in this small white city made you a stranger in a strange world; an outcast in the house where you lived; a part of it all by necessity, and yet no part at all.

Flora Belle Yates, as a child, used to shield herself from the frequent hurts and insults of white children with tears, blows, and sometimes curses. Even with only one Negro family, the Yatcses, in Tall Rock, race relations were not too good. Her father and mother had come up from Texas years ago. Flora BelIe had heard them tell about the night they left Texarkana, looking back to see their hut in flames and a mob shouting in the darkness. The mob wanted to lynch Flora Belle’s father. It seemed that, in an argument about wages, he had beaten up a white man. Through some miracle, her mother said, they had gotten away in the face of the mob, escaping in a rickety ford, crossing the state line and driving for three days, somehow making it to the Northwest. Her father had an idea of getting to Canada, fleeing like the slaves in slave days clean out of the United States, but gas and money ran out. He and his wife stopped to work along the way, and finally ended up by staying in Tall Rock. Nora’s father had gotten a job there, tending to the horses and equipment of a big contractor. Her mother worked in the contractor’s house as cook, maid, and washwoman. Shortly after their arrival, Flora Belle was born in a large room over the contractor’s stable.

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Image taken from here

Book Choice: The Ways of White Folks: Stories

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