XXXIII. WHY THE NEGRO IS BLACK
ONE night, while the little boy was watching Uncle Remus
twisting and waxing some shoe-thread, he made what appeared to
him to be a very curious discovery. He discovered that the palms
of the old man's hands were as white as his own, and the fact was
such a source of wonder that he at last made it the subject of
remark. The response of Uncle Remus led to the earnest recital of
a piece of unwritten history that must prove interesting to
"Tooby sho de pa'm er my han's w'ite, honey," he quietly remarked,
"en, w'en it come ter dat, dey wuz a time w'en all de w'ite folks
'uz black-blacker dan me, kaze I done bin yer so long dat I bin
sorter bleach out."
The little boy laughed. He thought Uncle Remus was making him
the victim of one of his jokes; but the youngster was never more
mistaken. The old man was serious. Nevertheless, he failed to
rebuke the ill-timed mirth of the child, appearing to be alto-gether
engrossed in his work. After a while, he resumed:
"Yasser. Fokes dunner w'at bin yit, let 'lone w'at gwineter be.
Niggers is niggers now, but de time wuz w'en we 'uz all niggers
"When was that, Uncle Remus?"
"Way back yander. In dem times we 'uz all an us black; we 'uz all
niggers tergedder, en 'cordin' ter all de 'counts w'at I years fokes 'uz
gittin' 'long 'bout ez well in dem days ez dey is now. But atter 'w'ile
de news come dat dere wuz a pon' er water some'rs in de
naberhood, w'ich ef dey'd git inter dey'd be wash off nice en w'ite,
en den one un um, he fine de place en make er splange inter de
pon', en come out w'ite ez a town gal. En den, bless grashus! w'en
de fokes seed it, dey make a break fer de pon', en dem w'at wuz de
soopless, dey got in fus' en dey come out w'ite; en dem w'at wuz de
nex' soopless, dey got in nex', en dey come out merlatters; en dey
wuz sech a crowd un um dat dey mighty nigh use de water up,
w'ich w'en dem yuthers come long, de morest dey could do wuz ter
paddle about wid der foots en dabble in it wid der han's. Dem wuz
de niggers, en down ter dis day dey ain't no w'ite 'bout a nigger
'ceppin de pa'ms er der han's en de soles er der foot."
The little boy seemed to be very much interested in this new
account of the origin of races, and he made some further inquiries,
which elicited from Uncle Remus the following additional
"De Injun en de Chinee got ter be 'counted 'long er de nierlatter. I
ain't seed no Chinee dat I knows un, but dey tells me dey er sorter
'twix' a brown en a brindle. Dey er all merlatters."
"But mamma says the Chinese have straight hair," the little boy
"Co'se, honey," the old man unhesitatingly responded, "dem
w'at git ter de pon' time nuff fer ter git der head in de water, de
water hit onkink der ha'r. Hit bleedzd ter be dat away."