Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Huckleberry Finn - Revised?

So, the NewSouth Books has decided that the use of the "n-word" (as I have no African American friends, I don't feel okay saying it) in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is inappropriate in our modern society. It's used 219 times. Apparently some schools have refused to teach the book to make it easier for students who are uncomfortable with the n-word. 
Here's what I have to say on the subject (I'm going to assume you want my opinion since you're reading this.)
Fuck you NewSouth Books. Fuck. You.
This is ridiculous. As says, "We don't ban books anymore, we just change them." It's whitewashing of history. As a history major, it pisses me off that ANYONE would want to change history - no matter how slight they think it is. Yes, that word is inappropriate now, hence why I won't use it in full. But in Mark Twain's time, it was a totally accurate word. That was just how you described a black person! Even the later accepted term of "darkie" was considered "too nice." Basically, they were not people. They were THREE FIFTHS of people. (And that was only the men, but women's rights deserves its own rant.) 
The word being used to replace n**** is "slave". As The Daily Show's senior black correspondent Larry Wilmore pointed out, being called slave was a step up from *n-word* - the meaning of Twain's work is lost. He meant for it to be accurate to what he knew. Replacing descriptive words with a job isn't accurate... Imagine replacing a description of me (let's say "blonde") with my job... So instead of being my boyfriend's "hot blonde" I would be his "Hot... tech." Cause, yeah, that is exactly the same.
Does history suck sometimes? Absolutely. There is not a historian out there who would tell you that the world was all peaches and cream. There was not a time in history where one or another races was being oppressed somewhere in the world. It's usually multiple races in multiple places. 
Just because we don't like what happened, we shouldn't have the power to change stories. History is told by the winner's side, but when you change who won, you're lying more than usual. Today my HTST 200 (World History) prof taught us that history as an academic discipline as we know it really only came about in the 19th Century. Prior to that, historians essentially judged the history they looked at, deciding if it was right or wrong based on their definitions of right and wrong. As a practice, we don't do that anymore. There was a realization that everything has to be taken in context.
I realize that this is probably very circular and all my debate friends are dying on the inside, but I am very against changing Huckleberry Finn, and since you're reading my blog, I'm guessing that you care about what I have to say. =P

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