Mar. 8 2020
Describing the difference between the “house Negro” and the “field Negro.” -X
So you have two types of Negro. The old type and the new type. Most of you know the old type. When you read about him in history during slavery he was called “Uncle Tom.” He was the house Negro. And during slavery you had two Negroes. You had the house Negro and the field Negro.
The house Negro usually lived close to his master. He dressed like his master. He wore his master’s second-hand clothes. He ate food that his master left on the table. And he lived in his master’s house–probably in the basement or the attic–but he still lived in the master’s house.
So whenever that house Negro identified himself, he always identified himself in the same sense that his master identified himself. When his master said, “We have good food,” the house Negro would say, “Yes, we have plenty of good food.” “We” have plenty of good food. When the master said that “we have a fine home here,” the house Negro said, “Yes, we have a fine home here.” When the master would be sick, the house Negro identified himself so much with his master he’d say, “What’s the matter boss, we sick?” His master’s pain was his pain. And it hurt him more for his master to be sick than for him to be sick himself. When the house started burning down, that type of Negro would fight harder to put the master’s house out than the master himself would.
But then you had another Negro out in the field. The house Negro was in the minority. The masses–the field Negroes were the masses. They were in the majority. When the master got sick, they prayed that he’d die. [Laughter] If his house caught on fire, they’d pray for a wind to come along and fan the breeze
If someone came to the house Negro and said, “Let’s go, let’s separate,” naturally that Uncle Tom would say, “Go where? What could I do without boss? Where would I live? How would I dress? Who would look out for me?” That’s the house Negro. But if you went to the field Negro and said, “Let’s go, let’s separate,” he wouldn’t even ask you where or how. He’d say, “Yes, let’s go.” And that one ended right there.
So now you have a twentieth-century-type of house Negro. A twentieth-century Uncle Tom. He’s just as much an Uncle Tom today as Uncle Tom was 100 and 200 years ago. Only he’s a modern Uncle Tom. That Uncle Tom wore a handkerchief around his head. This Uncle Tom wears a top hat. He’s sharp. He dresses just like you do. He speaks the same phraseology, the same language. He tries to speak it better than you do. He speaks with the same accents, same diction. And when you say, “your army,” he says, “our army.” He hasn’t got anybody to defend him, but anytime you say “we” he says “we.” “Our president,” “our government,” “our Senate,” “our congressmen,” “our this and our that.” And he hasn’t even got a seat in that “our” even at the end of the line. So this is the twentieth-century Negro. Whenever you say “you,” the personal pronoun in the singular or in the plural, he uses it right along with you. When you say you’re in trouble, he says, “Yes, we’re in trouble.”
But there’s another kind of Black man on the scene. If you say you’re in trouble, he says, “Yes, you’re in trouble.” [Laughter] He doesn’t identify himself with your plight whatsoever.
When some might try to intentionally or not intentionally paint a narrative. This subject concerns the label “Uncle Tom” and why it is important to do your research.
How much research does an individual do? And do they interpret it as others wish to do it or as in full interpretation. There is a difference and it seems evidence shows that as others call them he also fit those shoes. It isn’t a compliment when those who are called “Uncle Tom” in the negative way know exactly what a person means or it is directed in such way.
Henson serves his master faithfully and is assigned more physically demanding tasks as he grows from childhood to manhood. He achieves “great influence with my companions” and, as a young man is “promoted to be superintendent of the farm work, and managed to raise more than double the crops, with more cheerful and willing labor, than was ever seen on the estate before”
Wikipedia only describes so much. This isn’t to take away the positive this man might have done for w/e reason, but to acknowledge all of it.
Henson’s mother encourages him to attend a religious service, and he is converted to Christianity: “I date my conversion, and my awakening to a new life . . . from this day, so memorable to me”. Henson continues to develop his spiritual beliefs and “could not help talking much on these subjects with those about me . . . I began to pray with them, and exhort them, and to impart to the poor slaves <— (Did he think of himself as one of them or more superior?) those little glimmerings of light from another world”. Thus, Henson becomes “an esteemed preacher” within his community, embarking on a career that is confirmed by his admission to the Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1828.
Eventually, Henson’s master falls into financial difficulty. Though Henson had served him faithfully for twenty years, he is among those sent to Riley’s brother in Kentucky as part of an attempt to manage debts. By extracting a promise from him before explaining the commitment, Riley enjoins Henson to transport eighteen slaves, including Henson’s wife and children, from Maryland to Kentucky. While passing through the free state of Ohio, “colored people gathered round us, and urged us with much importunity to remain with them,” but Henson refuses to consider deserting. Although Henson desires freedom, he intends to purchase it and will not consider running away because it violates his sense of honor. The slaves under his watch “probably had little perception of the nature of the boon that was offered to them, and were willing to do just as I told them,” so they leave the free state with him, and Henson delivers everyone to their new master, Amos Riley.
Working under Amos Riley, Henson still desires to purchase his freedom. Encouraged by a white Methodist minister, Henson obtains permission to travel to Maryland and visit his old master, raising money by preaching on the way. Though Isaac Riley welcomes Henson’s visit and negotiates a price for manumission, he is surprised by Henson’s accumulated earnings. He agrees to a price of four-hundred and fifty dollars, taking Henson’s cash earnings of three-hundred and fifty dollars as a down payment. Unfortunately, he tricks the unsuspecting Henson by promising to forward the manumission papers to Amos Riley on his behalf, sending a letter that raises the agreed price to one thousand dollars.<– As Henson admits not in so many words that he is in a position due to faithfully serving his white master. I am sure he wasn’t helping free his sisters nor brothers as again he admits. It was actually the opposite after many of the “poor slaves” as Henson describes were forced to break their backs not only for the white master but also for Henson himself.
Henson discovers the trick upon returning to Amos Riley’s plantation and despairs of ever raising the needed funds. As a further betrayal, his master decides to send him to New Orleans and sell him. During the trip Amos Riley’s son, who is superintending, falls ill. The conscientious Henson nurses him and returns home with the son alive. <— Saving the slave master or master’s son being more important than his people, his family and him. The flaws and claims people make thinking they could understand without actually understanding, living, etc..
Yet, instead of gratitude for saving the son’s life, Henson discovers that “My merits, whatever they were, instead of exciting sympathy, or any feeling of attachment to me, seemed only to enhance my money value to them”. Henson, therefore, resolves to escape with his wife and four children.<— Only then he seems to realize. If you wish to learn the hard way, then the hard way you shall learn.
They walk, Henson carrying the two smallest children in a bag on his back, from Kentucky to Ohio, fighting exposure, exhaustion, and hunger. They are aided by Native Americans<— By Who?
in the Ohio wilderness as well as sympathetic boatmen who carry them across Lake Erie to Buffalo, New York.