Monday, September 7, 2020

the last book I ever read (Amiable with Big Teeth by Claude McKay, excerpt eight)

from Amiable with Big Teeth by Claude McKay:

Peixota said that had he felt convinced about the Emperor making such a statement, he would wash his hands of the organization. But he would believe that Haile Selassie could be so discourteous to Aframericans. Alamaya said that even if the Emperor had said anything, he believed that the newspaper item was an exaggeration. He continued to explain why Ethiopia considered itself an African and not a “Negro” state and said that “Abyssinian” was also objectionable and never used. And just as many thousands of Aframericans considered “Negro” an offensive word and even banned it in conversation and in print, so the Ethiopians preferred to be designated by their ancient original name, “Ethiopian.”

The others were in agreement with Lij Alamaya. Dorsey Flagg said that Koazhy was not just a fool eccentric, when he took an African name and declared that Aframericans and Africans should abolish the word “Negro” because it did not originate among the Africans, but was of European creation. He pointed out that other peoples and countries had changed names, Ireland to Eire, Persians to Iranians. The largest circulating New York daily newspaper never used the word “Negro” but “colored” instead, and it looked better in print than “Negro,” sometimes with a large and sometimes with a small “N,” which was favored by the other newspapers. It was awkward to see a newspaper print, “Mrs. Ada Jones, Negro.” Such a rule was not followed in printing the names of Spanish, Italian, Jewish, or Mongolian people. He, Flagg, was not partial to “colored”; he preferred “Aframerican.” The Rev. Zebulon Trawl suggested that the Aframerican churches should call a national conference and decide upon a name. Dorsey Flagg questioned whether the churches were representative enough to deal with such a matter and thought the Aframerican colleges more suitable. Pablo Peixota thought both churches and colleges might work together, but he considered the first more important, as most names had a religious origin and churches played a primary part in the naming of people.

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