Willie D & the Historical Definition of the Word ‘Coon’

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[Hook: Willie D]

If you selling out your people you’re a coon

If you hate your own kind you’re a coon

Bootlicker shuck and jive you’re a coon

You’re coon you’re a coon you’re a coon

 

If you’re selling out your people you’re a coon

If you hate your own kind you’re a coon

Sambo die slow you’re a coon

You’re a coon you’re a coon you’re a coon

Originally, I wasn’t going to write about this subject because there continues to be two distinctly separate factions in black America. Some will say it’s what legendary comedian Chris Rock spoke to in what has become a one of his most famous comedic routines in his 1996 stand-up special, “Bring the Pain.” In the segment which was slightly over eight minutes long, Rock made it abundantly clear that there exists a subculture within the African-American community in which there is a definite thin line not between love and hate, rather between black people and the nefarious N-word. As controversial as the routine was, many African-Americans actually agreed with Rock due to the negative stereotypes which are attributed to black folks as a collective brought to you by the narrow-minded bigots in the media and elsewhere. These stereotypes still remain to this day and yet the outcry towards this behavior continues to be celebrated or given a pass by a certain Negro sector and even by those who considers themselves “conscious”. Now before you think I’m writing this blog to take up for people who Willie D and others of his ilk deem as ‘Coons’, then think again. I must also make it perfectly clear that I am not defending a certain black collective who think they’re above other African-Americans themselves by affirming certain political viewpoints, concepts, and narratives. Not to say that I’m totally against hard work or the mantra of “pulling yourself up by the proverbial bootstraps” mentality because there is logic in that talking point, like it or not. Nonetheless, I would be a fool to say discrimination and now covert racism doesn’t exist within our current society. So spare me the nonsense that racism doesn’t because my name isn’t Charms and you can’t play me like a sucker. I actually want to present an argument in hopes that you would think critically about the historical implications that comes with the word coon and how many black folks (including Willie D himself), are using it completely out of context.  ***what we gonna do right here is go back***

For starters, if we’re going to speak on what cooning means in a historical sense, we must begin with a brief history of the Minstrel Shows and Blackface. Minstrelsy evolved from several different American entertainment traditions; the traveling circus, medicine shows, shivaree, Irish dance and music with African syncopated rhythms, musical halls and traveling theatre. The “father of American minstrelsy” was Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice (1808-60), who in 1828, in a New York City theatre, performed a song-and-dance routine in blackface and tattered clothes. Rice’s character was based on a folk trickster persona named Jim Crow that was long popular among black slaves. Rice also adapted and popularized a traditional slave song called Jump Jim Crow (http://black-face.com/minstrel-shows.htm). Rice’s song and dance routine was lauded by audiences that brought him enormous success in the U.S. and internationally. This spawned numerous imitators such as the Virginia Minstrels and the Ethiopian Serenaders; which incorporated the musical instruments: the banjo, a fiddle, a tambourine and bone castanets.  Minstrel show entertainment included imitating black music and dance and speaking in a “plantation” dialect. The shows featured a variety of jokes, songs, dances and skits that were based on the ugliest stereotypes of African American slaves. From 1840 to 1890, minstrel shows were the most popular form of entertainment in America (http://black-face.com/). Among several racist caricatures which existed in blackface, the ‘Coon’ caricature (which was a mixture between the Jim Crow & Zip Coon caricatures), is among the most popular stereotypes along with the Mammie, [Uncle] Tom, the Buck and the Pickaninny.

Ferris State University, which is the quote “Home of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia,” goes a bit deeper into the coon caricature and it has nothing to do with repeating “white supremacist” talking points:

“The coon caricature is one of the most insulting of all anti-black caricatures. The name itself, an abbreviation of raccoon, is dehumanizing. As with Sambo, the coon was portrayed as a lazy, easily frightened, chronically idle, inarticulate, buffoon. The coon differed from the Sambo in subtle but important ways. Sambo was depicted as a perpetual child, not capable of living as an independent adult. The coon acted childish, but he was an adult; albeit a good-for-little adult. Sambo was portrayed as a loyal and contented servant. Indeed, Sambo was offered as a defense for slavery and segregation. How bad could these institutions have been, asked the racialists, if blacks were contented, even happy, being servants? The coon, although he often worked as a servant, was not happy with his status. He was, simply, too lazy or too cynical to attempt to change his lowly position. Also, by the 1900s, Sambo was identified with older, docile blacks who accepted Jim Crow laws and etiquette; whereas coons were increasingly identified with young, urban blacks who disrespected whites. Stated differently, the coon was a Sambo gone bad.”

As we can clearly see, the coon caricature was a “Sambo gone bad” so if there is any criticisms of those who spew white supremacist rhetoric, chances are they’re closely related to the Sambo (like Sam Jackson in the movie Django) instead of the lazy, buffoonish, and malapropic speaking coon. Still, Negroes will still find a way to justify calling people like Stacey Dash, Raven Symone, Charles Barkley, Stephen A. Smith, Don Lemon, black Conservatives, and basically any black person who appears on Fox News—coons, simply because they have a different opinion and doesn’t espouse to the victimhood mentality. Now while those people that I’ve just mentioned are entitled to their personal perspectives when speaking on these socio-political platforms; however, it would be very remiss of me not bring up the obvious agendas on these programs regardless of your political ideas or affiliations. In fact, it is my assertion that these ‘talking heads’ are only allowed on these programs to regurgitate ‘controlled opinions’ rather than sincere, honest ones. But then again, we do have the Sheriff David Clarke’s of the world who had the audacity to fix his face and spew imbecilic nonsense like “there is no police brutality in America”. Dude seriously?! Then to make matters worse, while I don’t agree with the whole “Black Lives Matter” movement (because it is a covert movement to actually push the gay-transgender agenda, rather than focusing on blacks as a whole) but even they didn’t deserve to be called ‘subhuman creeps’ by Clarke.

Moving right along Willie D’s ‘coons’ list we have Stephen A. and Charles Barkley. Barkley received criticism (and praise) about exposing the “dirty, dark secret in the black community” that if you speak intelligently you’re ‘acting white’ or if you’re not ‘a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough’. Stephen A. has uttered these same sentiments (although he’s still receiving backlash on how he handled the Michelle Beadle situation and agreeing with Mark Cuban about prejudice & stereotypes) but because Smith, Barkley and nearly everyone else on Willie D.’s list (except Raven Symone) sounds well, kind of Bill Cosby-ish, they’re instantly labeled as coons. As I’ve stated before, most of the time these talking heads or pundits deliver controlled opinions on these platforms whether they truly believe their own rhetoric or not. Then there’s the notion that these people are rewarded handsomely by their white handlers for “throwing black people under the bus.” Well, by that logic what makes them any different from the rappers of the hip-hop subculture? Both are famously being controlled commercially and financially by white handlers with the lone exception that many in black America (including Mr. Coonhunter himself, Willie D.) refuse to call-out these rappers (of course not all) as coons. Because at the end of the day, cooning has more to do with stereotypical behavior that white racists believed about black people; not one’s opinion. Case in point: You had actor/comedian and television personality, Wayne Brady, being called “not black enough” by many in the black community due to he has not only a large white following, but because he sounds (intelligent/articulate) like a ‘white’ person. Here is a short excerpt from Brady on the Huffington Posts Live about being black and cooning:

At the end of the day, Negroes like Willie D. will continue call people the coon word because they’re on ‘white’ platforms but will keep quiet to the real so-called coons—who are also funded by white people! The real shuck and jive and Step ‘n Fetch will never get called out because they’re keeping it real—real hood that is—which has become synonymous with black culture. Negative stereotypes of Blacks are a staple of Black music videos that glorify gangsterism. The “buck” is now a hoodlum with an attitude and the minstrel-show plantation has morphed into a music video version of gangster life. Though the setting has changed from an idyllic plantation to the mean streets of urban America, the process remains the same; a black culture is being marketed for profit, with black performers portraying negative stereotypes (http://black-face.com/).

But I’m just trippin though, right?  Peace.

Links for further research on historical black stereotypes:

http://black-face.com/minstrel-shows

http://black-face.com/minstrel-shows.htm

http://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/coon/

 

 

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