Well, here’s an article about Alice “The Color Purple” Walker that pretty much demonstrates why I recoil whenever I see condescending, racial-ghetto-izing descriptions of someone as the “first African-American author to… “‘; or the “top Hispanic physician.” It implies a tokenism, that suggests that the object isn’t quite deserving of the honors they have received. They aren’t the top doctor, or author, or busineswoman, merely the best Black author, Hispanic doctor, or Asian American businesswoman who could be located on such short notice.
According to the Durham NC Herald Sun, the best African American Female writer now living, Alice Walker,
punctuated her talk of peace making with a little-known anecdote about Martin Luther King Jr.
The night before he was assassinated, Walker said, King had a bad cold and asked his right-hand man Ralph Abernathy to handle that night’s speaking engagement. But the people were not interested in hearing Abernathy speak, so King rose from his bed and delivered a rousing speech. When the civil rights leaders got back to the hotel, they had a pillow fight.
“The reason I want you to have this story is because it’s such a loving one, rather than the gruesome one,” Walker said. “If we want to fight people in the world, we should fight them with pillows — pillows stuffed with food, medicine, music. … That would be so much cheaper than bombs.”
Um, yeah, it would be much cheaper.
While we’re at it, why don’t we just make their minds explode with jarring mixed metaphors?
Seriously, can you imagine fighting with a pillow stuffed with food, medicine, and music?
“Ow, shit, why’d you hit me with that, you asshole… What the hell do you have in that pillow? It feels like bottles. And an enema bag. And some vitamin B-12. And what’s this crap dripping on me? Is this egg? And confectioner’s sugar? Ohhh, jeeeezus. What the f… And why’s that thing play Claire de Lune every time you bash me in the face with it?”
With that mixed metaphor from hell, Walker deserves to be driven from the public square like other literary disaster areas marked with similar “token ethnic author” signs, such as Amiri Baraka. Maybe she’s worse, I don’t know. At least Amiri Baraka, the first African-American poet-laureate of New Jersey, didn’t mix his metaphors.
(Oh, jeebus, a poet laureate of New Jersey? Did I actually just write that? “Poet Laureate” and “New Jersey” is about as easy to swallow as an anchovies and broken glass sandwich. It makes my eyes bleed just to read the phrase.)