Oh, wow, I had an unexpected racist night tonight.
So, my son's been bitching about having to read Little House on the Prairie for school. I'd just laugh and think, he doesn't like it because it's a "girl" book. I don't think I've actually ever read it before, which makes sense--my mother probably wouldn't allow it in the house, lol. Anyway, the book report is due soon, and he's been hating on it so much that I decided we'd curl up in his bed and I'd read him a couple of chapters, you know, help him out a little bit. Was I in for a shock! No wonder he hates it. In Wilder's book:
- Her family of white land thieves takes Indian (Osage) land without permission, yet whites are seen as good while Indians are seen as bad, wild and threatening.
- Two characters say, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”
- Later in the book there is a good, still-living Indian: one who is willing to fight his own people to protect white settlers.
- Ma hates Indians. So does Jack, the family dog.
- Descriptions of Indians:
- “screeching dev-“
- “Their eyes were black and still glittering, like snake’s eyes.”
- “The wild, fast yipping yells were worse than wolves.”
- “Laura thought [Pa] would show her a papoose [baby Indian] some day, just as he had shown her fawns, and little bears, and wolves.”
- Laura: “Pa, get me that little Indian baby … Oh, I want it! I want it! … Please, Pa, please!”
- Ma: “Dear me, Laura, must you yell like an Indian? I declare, if you girls aren’t getting to look like Indians! Can I never teach you to keep your sunbonnets on?”
- “Treaties or no treaties, the land belongs to folks that’ll farm it. That’s only common sense and justice.”
After I got over my shock, I said, "Dang, son, this book is racist! Laura wants a baby Indian, like it's a puppy!"
Then it was on. We read that book, looking for every racist thing in it and laughing our asses off. "They love to eat crackers! AHAHAHA! They like white sugar better than brown sugar! LMFAO! Red skin??? Who has red skin unless they have a really horrible rash? LOL!"
At the end, they get kicked out of their little house on the prairie because it's on Osage land. We're like, "Yes!!!"
All-in-all, I'd say it was a good learning experience about racial stereotypes. The book got read, we got some good laughs, and we discussed historical attitudes toward American Indians. We also learned "hi" in Cherokee. It's not "how," by the way. It's "siyo." My mom taught me that. Now my son knows it, too.
And Ma in Little House is a bitch. A total bitch.