Can We Talk About the Controversy of Little House on the Prairie. - Page 8 - Mothering Forums

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#211 of 221 Old 05-01-2007, 10:13 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kama'aina mama View Post
In addition to the numerous objectionable references to indigenous people... am I the only one who remembers the minstral show? Pa and a handful of other townsmen put on a show in blackface.
Oh, goodness, I totally remember this and was going to comment on it. I remember being very disturbed by this scene. It was clear to me that Laura favored Pa - I always saw him as the more gentle and reasonable one; he spoke respectfully to and of NAs in sharp contrast to Ma's reaction to them. It was such a let-down for me when he did the minstral show. I remember the minstrals were discribed (by Laura, I guess) as "darkies" and I hated that.

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#212 of 221 Old 05-01-2007, 10:20 AM
 
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Maybe I'm a freak.. the slaughtering and the food parts never bothered me at all. They were some of my favorite passages. Might be why I did just fine in cooking school.
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#213 of 221 Old 05-01-2007, 10:30 AM
 
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I remember that part, but I also remember that I never recognized that that show was a minstrel show. I didn't know what a minstrel show was. I thought the paint they wore on their faces was just, I don't know, like clown makeup or mime makeup or something. It never occurred to me that it was supposed to be some kind of imitation or mockery of black people. And really, how would a kid know that, unless he/she was already familiar with the concept of minstrel shows?

Hmm. I had never been exposed to the concept (nor have I been in any other context since then), but it was pretty clear to me as a kid. I vividly remember the illustrations and the fact that the "actors" were described as "darkies" kinda clinched it for me.

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#214 of 221 Old 05-01-2007, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
Some of you might be interested in Louise Erdrich's The Birchbark House
From Amazon:

(summary edited to comply with UA rules on copyright.)
Thanks for the recommendation; I'll put it on my exceptionally long list of things-I-want-to-read-my-kids
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#215 of 221 Old 05-01-2007, 10:32 AM
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And the slaughtering scenes made me feel rather queasy, even as a five year old.
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#216 of 221 Old 05-01-2007, 10:49 AM
 
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The characters, though, are very likable, and whether we want to acknowledge it or not, it's much easier to dismiss racists attitudes when we're sympathetic to the characters. You can't know exactly how much of that attitude slipped into the back of your brain. That's why systemic racism is so effective and so deeply rooted; you don't notice it.

"Good" people do participate in evil systems. We need to recognize that because we also need to recognize that, by participating in that system, they become *part* of the system. They feed that system. And being otherwise "good" doesn't give them a free pass. Our history books are filled with "good" people whose role in an evil system has been minimized or completely dismissed. By ignoring their roles as well as the roles of modern day "heroes", we make it easier to ignore more subtle bigotry and make it easier for that bigotry to crawl even further under our skin.

Racism, the worst kind, isn't draped in a white sheet. It's not obvious. And sometimes, here, I get the impression that too many people either can't or don't want to recognize bigotry if it's not represented by a burning cross.

I have finally made it through this thread . . .

Such a great post! (bolding mine) I totally agree, and this ultimately, is why I will read LH books to and with my daughter when she is older (she'll be 5 in a few months). Not only are the books fascinating to me from a historical context, but I think they can be a wonderful starting-point for some good discussions about attitudes towards people of color, and how racism can be "low key" or rampant but always insidious and dehumanizing.

I've noted the recommendations of other books, too (birchbark house and others) and when we are ready to read LH books them I will balance them out with other perspectives. I love thinking about all the things my DD and I will read together. There is nothing so delicious (to a bookworm like me, anyhow) as the anticipation of opening a good book!

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#217 of 221 Old 05-01-2007, 11:20 AM
 
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O.o' Well...

I read the entire series, MULTIPLE times as a child. And I honestly LOVED them.

I'm Cherokee and Cree. I always romanticized the 'glittering black eyes'. I honestly thought that my ancestors were strong, brave people, who faced a lot of injustice... The books show a part of the Trail of Tears... and for a little white girl to look at what could have been My great grandmother, and my grandfather on her back, and say that she was a little scared... but she made their eyes sound just beautiful.

I dunno. If my boys ever want to read them, they're welcome to. They'll also get the same background info as I did.
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#218 of 221 Old 05-01-2007, 11:28 AM
 
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I don't want my dd's to learn about racism when they experience it.

I also don't want to abstractedly explain what racism is to them, out of the blue.

I think the LH books will be a perfect start to bring up the subject.
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#219 of 221 Old 06-12-2007, 04:37 PM
 
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What a great thread! I remember reading part of it a while ago and just stumbled upon this again.
I'm reading LHITBW to my girls right now (neither old enough to read) and find myself editing -- I say "Pa sang a song" instead of reading the song that has the word (forgive me for typing this, please) "Darkey . . " oy! I also skip the spanking parts, instead reading "Pa was very angry." They haven't encountered Native Americans yet in this book -- I believe that starts in the next, right? In any case, I have the Birchbark book mentioned above and am reading it now (loving it!). I also have [u]If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon[u/] [u]If You Lived with the Iroquois[u] and [u]If You Lived with the Sioux[u] to serve as companion read-alouds and resource books (we're big fans of "I don't know, lets see if we can find it in this book" in our house ) When the girls are old enough, I hope they'll read the books and we can engage in discussions about the racism and sexism that are part of their lives. However, before we do so, I want them to have a firm understanding of and appreciation for Native American culture and gender equality in their own lives, so that the racism and gender inequality can strike them as out of place, not normal, kwim?

Charlotte
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#220 of 221 Old 06-12-2007, 04:55 PM
 
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I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but if your children like books on tape/cd, Cherry Jones does a good job reading the series. There is also some pretty violin music accompaning it at parts.
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#221 of 221 Old 06-13-2007, 02:57 AM
 
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DD (9) and I will be reading the LH bks along with the prairie primer starting this fall for homeschool. We are pretty adamant on discussing racisim in our home. I grew up with it in my home and its all over our culture. This will be a great tool.
LH books are a much easier tool to discuss racism than many of the other forms media has allowed to subject many of our children. Take Disney for example, My DC are not allowed to watch most of the Disney movies, ever.
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