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I often refer to a decrepit machine that I'm asked to repair as a "tar baby," in reference to the old Uncle Remus tale of Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby. Repair to one component leads to failure of another, then another, etc, thus miring me hand and foot like Br'er Rabbit. I've been surprised to find that not one person around here understands the analogy. Am I THAT old, or is Uncle Remus too "politically incorrect?"

Some of the people I work with are retired General Motors engineers, thus presumably not stupid or ignorant, and yet... Confused


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
Posts: 6011 | Location: Muncie, IndianaReply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think most people (particularly parents) know Br'er Rabbit's Tar Baby. That's not the problem. I just think the analogy is a little subtle. I sure had to think about it. I like it though!

I don't think the problem is being politically correct.
 
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Certainly I'm of an age where I understood the reference to Br'er Rabbit, but, like Kalleh, didn't get the connection. According to Wikipedia the phrase can have racial overtones (on top of the usual Uncle Remus un-PCness) so it's described as best avoided in all contexts.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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The Uncle Remus stories are no longer shared with children because of the racially charged issues surrounding them. Tar Baby and many of the others are included in that. Tar Baby, in particular is deemed racist.

Disney's Song of the South is still never shown or released, even though there are other Discney films that depict racist stereotypes (the circus workers in Dumbo come to mind) that are still in circulation. It's just too big of an issue to bother.

In your circumstance, I am more like to say something like "well, if you give a mouse a cookie", which refers to a much more recent children's book of that title, and which most people will understand as meaning "one thing will always lead to more things".


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Posts: 5149 | Location: Columbus, OhioReply With QuoteReport This Post
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The Uncle Remus stories are no longer shared with children because of the racially charged issues surrounding them. Tar Baby and many of the others are included in that. Tar Baby, in particular is deemed racist.
Well, for many of us who read those stories, that is sad. I so enjoyed Uncle Remus, as a child.
 
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I enjoyed the stories as well, Kalleh. I miss them, and as a storyteller, I feel a sense of loss because I can't draw on those stories to add to my repertoire. I loved the story of Little Black Sambo and how he ran around in circles with the tigers chasing him until they ran so fast the tigers turned to butter.

That said, there are starting to be a few new iterations of the old stories, published as Picture Books, told and illustrated by African American people that are well-respected in the kidlit world. They've garnered accolades from many, but of course there are still those who protest.

This brings to mind the controversy I've seen over the book and movie The Help .


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"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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CW, I think I've mentioned to you that my mother was a children's librarian at the Cincinnati Main Library back in the late 1930s and early 1940s. She read us the Uncle Remus stories and also Little Black Sambo when we were kids, and when those books came to be banned in the '60s, she regretted it, because they were great yarns. She said that children of all races loved those stories when she was working with them, and that their absence would be a loss. But as long as people are sensitive to the cartoonish racial stereotypes, I guess they'll be banned. It is good to know that other kid-lit is coming in to take their place.

WM
 
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So, why isn't Huck Finn banned? And Sambo was Indian! This Pee Cee crap irks me!


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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Huck Finn as a public high school reading selection may not be 'banned', but it is such a dicey choice-- and not just because of the frequent appearance of the 'n'word-- that a sanitized version is being contemplated. This NYT article makes a good case for the [unsanitized, obviously] version as a college text, where its many layers can be studied in depth.
 
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I loved the story of Little Black Sambo and how he ran around in circles with the tigers chasing him until they ran so fast the tigers turned to butter.
I loved that book too. It, and Tar Baby, and many others (particularly AA Milne poems) were all in my Better Homes and Gardens storybook that I treasured as a child...and still have.

I'd think that stories like Tar Baby and Little Black Sambo would actually help with racial relations because those who live in non-racially diverse areas would see some of the differences in skin color and presumably would be enamored by the culture and would want to learn more. But, then, who am I to know.
 
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those who live in non-racially diverse areas would see some of the differences in skin color and presumably would be enamored by the culture and would want to learn more.

That was me growing up in early 1950s England. It was very rare to see anyone who wasn't white. In particular, there were next to no black kids. While the depiction of other races in the stories made them seem very exotic, with hindsight I see how condescending it was.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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