A few weeks ago, this week’s “honoree” was an obscure academic at an obscure University. Who outside of Alabama knew that football factory Auburn had a branch campus in Montgomery? Not me certainly and I suspect very few of you were aware of that fact either. Alan Gribben teaches English at said school and has gained notoriety for being the editor of the expurgated version of Huck Finn hence his entry into the pantheon of malakatude.
Professor Gribben’s motives seem superficially benign: removing the N-word will allow one of the greatest American novels to again be taught in schools that shy away from controversy. I didn’t like it when I heard about it and like it even less the more I think about it. Who the hell is Gribben to edit Mark Twain who I usually call by his given name Samuel Clemens? Clemens not only invented vernacular American fiction but is one of the funniest writers ever in *any* language. Malakas like Gribben shouldn’t mess with a master like Twain.
I’m glad that the vast majority of commentary from both blacks and pinks (how many white people outside the Upper Midwest are actually white?) has condemned Gribben for fucking around with a classic. Don’t fuck with Huck, Professor Malaka.
This incident does, however, show the power of language: one nasty and vile but frequently used word can cause an incredible uproar.
Jim is also a much loved character: Twain was one of the first American writers to create a three dimensional character who happened to be black. Don’t mess around with Jim, Professor Malaka. Or should that be Doctor Malaka?
There’s been some really good stuff written on Gribben’s malakatude but I’d like to direct you to three New Orleanians: bloggersCliff Harris andPatrick Armstrong as well as Picayune pundit Jarvis DeBerry I’ll let pink skinned Cousin Pat have the last word:
Let’s be clear on one thing. This revision is not taking place for some “politically correct” reason, or because some African-American or Native-American was offended. This revision is happening so white people can continue to believe the illusion that nothing wrong ever happened in America’s past, ever, especially not at the hands of white people.
Do not be fooled.