An American Indian perspective on changing “Injun” to “Indian” in TOM SAWYER [American Indians in Children's Literature]
On January 3rd, Publisher’s Weekly carried an article called Upcoming NewSouth ‘Huck Finn’ Eliminates the ‘N’ Word. The article says that NewSouth Books is planning to release a version of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in a single volume titled Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. The article also says that the editor, Alan Gribben, replaced “nigger” with “slave” and “injun” with “Indian.”
I’ve received several emails, asking what I think of the change.
I imagine that I probably read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when I was in school, but I don’t remember much. Waller Hastings (a colleague on child_lit) pointed to the lack of critical discussion of Twain’s portrayals of Indians. News about the NewSouth book, and Waller’s comment, too, prompted me to read (reread?) Tom Sawyer.
Cowardly Rock Throwers [Raving Black Lunatic]
The old cliche is that the biggest lie Satan ever told involved convincing mankind that he didn’t exist.
Along those lines, the biggest lie that bigots tell is that their bigotry has no serious impact on the world.
We all know about the shooter in Tucson. While I’ve been pissed that he hasn’t been called a terrorist by every media group reporting on the incident, I am also upset at the reaction to his actions by Tea Party members. Given the Tea Party’s rhetoric about violence, blood and liberty, people automatically thought of them when a man shot a congresswoman at a campaign event.
Recently, a Yale professor and “Superior Chinese mother” published a wildly controversial opinion piece on the Wall Street Journal espousing just how much better the “Chinese” method of parenting is – no playdates, ultimate discipline and a complete disregard for your children’s feelings because really, what do they know? I thought it was some kind of satirical joke at first. But no – it was a terrible tragedy of a piece that probably only got published thanks to those recent Shanghai PISA test scores demonstrating (to those not looking close enough) some sort of amazing educational secret Asian people have that others MUST KNOW. Having lived through a version of the Chinese Parenting Experience, and having been surrounded since birth with hundreds of CPE graduates, I couldn’t not say something. The article actually made me feel physically ill and, judging from the comments section of Amy Chua’s piece, garnered similar reactions from others who’d gone through what she’s espousing.
Mother, superior? [San Francisco Chronicle]
When I reached out to her for details, she explained, “The book isn’t a how-to manual, as the Journal excerpt would have you believe — it’s a memoir. As such, you’ll see some truth in it, and you’ll also see glaring blind spots and a sometimes-woeful lack of self-examination. That truth, instead of making you hate Chua, will cause you to reflect on your own upbringing — and your own parenting style, good and bad. And I think this is especially important for Asian Americans who feel that they were parented Chua-style, and are bitter about it — that is to say, most of us.”
I consumed “Battle Hymn” in a single sitting, and Wang is absolutely right. It’s a riveting read, and nothing like what the Journal “excerpt” suggests. There’s still plenty to be horrified by at in the actual book, but even more, as Wang noted, to think about — and laugh at, as odd as that may seem to those who haven’t yet read it: Far from being strident, the book’s tone is slightly rueful, frequently self-deprecating and entirely aware of its author’s enormities. It’s a little, but not quite, like a Chelsea Handler book — if Chelsea Handler were a Chinese American law professor and Momzilla of two.
I decided I had to connect with Chua herself to learn firsthand what she was really trying to say through her book — and why that message ended up getting lost in its newsprint translation.