The Coffee Will Make You Black
Reading Group's On-line Chat Transcript for Our July Selection

Uncle Tom's ChildrenUncle Tom's Children
(Click title to purchase book on-line)

by Richard Wright

Format: Paperback, 1st ed., 301pp.
ISBN: 0060812516
Publisher: HarperTrade
Pub. Date: December  1992

August 2nd 2000 9:00 PM EST

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[Mel] hey
[Mel] its me melisha
[tabonnefee] hey Mel are you this evening?
[Mel] good and you?
[tabonnefee] hey Thumper
Thumper6488> Hello
[tabonnefee] wonderful thanks
[Mel] hey thump
Thumper6488> Hello Melisha, how are you doing this evening?
[Mel] great and you?
Thumper6488> Hello tabonnefee. I got your email.
Thumper6488> I'm doing very well.
[tabonnefee] all right THumper ... I'm gonna admit from the jump that I
didn't finish Bright and Morning Star
[Mel] So are we going to wait or just start?
[tabonnefee] THumper ...I hope you don't mind the request
Thumper6488> Mel: Just start
Thumper6488> No, not at all.
[Mel] Thumper, I have to ask, are you a woman or a man?
Thumper6488> why?
[Mel] I ask because you were highly upset about Richard Wright's depictions
of women
Thumper6488> I am a man.
[Mel] I thought so
Thumper6488> Yes, I was upset. I had notice it in his other works.
Thumper6488> But my mother, she's a black woman.
Thumper6488> LOL
[Mel] lol
[Mel] well this is the first book i read by him

[Mel] I watched native son the movie
[Mel] but i never read the book
[tabonnefee] and what do you think about his writing based on these
- stories?
[Mel] I think he is highly political and he expresses it through his
- literature
[Mel] He seems to emphasize the plight of black men
Thumper6488> I think he's wonderful. I'm a little sick on the communism
- shade of his stories though
[tabonnefee] Thumper ... the communist angle did get old ... his writing is
- very engaging though ... very descriptive
[Mel] but I'm not surprised because during his time and before and even a
- while afterwards black men never really cared to. . .
[Mel] talk about
[Mel] the plight of black women
Thumper6488> I disagree with that somewhat.
[Mel] I think you all have to read the book in it's context
Thumper6488> And what context is that?
[Mel] This was a period in American history which was charged with
- communist politics
[Mel] and he himself experimented with the communist movement
[Mel] I think though he was trying to point out the hypocrisy of communism
- and being black
[Mel] I know this was a major theme in Native son
Thumper6488> I disagree. He was an active member of the Communist party
[Mel] In many ways I think all the stories in this book that dealt with the
- subject of communism were a reflection of his experience in the movement
[Mel] Just because you belong to something doesn't mean you can't criticize
- the flaws in it
Thumper6488> Also, he wrote in his American Hunger that it was slanted to
- show Communism in a positive light
Thumper6488> in a sympathetic light
[Mel] but there is a good and a bad side to everything
[Mel] right?
Thumper6488> Sure there is.
Thumper6488> But I can't help to feel that he made a mistake by injecting
[Mel] He showed the good and bad in this book
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Thumper6488> so much politics in his stories when later in life he would
- reject it
[Mel] injecting?
TO Lourtet> Hello. How are you doing this evening?
[tabonnefee] just because you believe in the theoretical aspect of a
- movement doesn't mean that it is employed in a manner that is workable for
- you ... perhaps that was the issue

Thumper6488> I can go with that.
[Mel] yeah me too
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TO shirley> Hello Shirley
[Mel] Well anyway thumper let's get to the subject of women since you were
- so pissed about that
Thumper6488> I felt that he was too hard on the black women in his stories
Thumper6488> and his books
[Mel] I just didn't feel that he hated black women based on what he wrote
[Lourtet] ...and his life
[Mel] can you break it down because I only am familiar with this work
Thumper6488> I'll try
[Lourtet] Ask Zora....she seemed to know!
[Mel] Zora?
[Mel] Neale Hurston?
Thumper6488> Take Down By the riverside
Thumper6488> Sarah was the cause for the destruction of Silas because she
- slept with a wihite man
[Mel] you mean long black song?
Thumper6488> Yeah, that ont
Thumper6488> Down by the riverside was the one with the pregnant wife that
- died in labor, right
[Mel] Do you have proof in his life because I don't really see that
[Mel] yeah
Thumper6488> No, but I read 5 of his books
[Mel] let's abreviate titles
Thumper6488> And there's not one strong black female character in the group
[Mel] like LBS for long black song
[Mel] and so on
[Mel] But thumper this was the 1940s
>> tabonnefee has left channel #XC.1141852
Thumper6488> Are you saying that it was un-necesary to show women
Thumper6488> in other persepectives because it was the 1940s
[Mel] black men didn't care about black women and their struggles
Thumper6488> Sure they did. I wouldn't say that.
[Mel] That's why so many black women lashed out in the 70s
Thumper6488> I disagree, have you read Cane by Jean Toomer
[Mel] I don't think they cared enough to write about them with the fervour
- of a black woman
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[Mel] Sure there were a few here and there
Thumper6488> Mel: They did care enough to write about them.
Thumper6488> No, I'll give you a list of titles later
[Mel] but also I think communism may have had something to do with it
[Mel] because I have heard huey p. and others disrespected black women also
Thumper6488> Maybe, but I would go that far out on the limb though
Thumper6488> And I've read just as many that didn't disrespect black women.
[Mel] excuse me for a moment I'll be back in about 5 minutes
[Mel] peace'

[tabonnefee] THumper ... which of the stories did you favor?
Thumper6488> Long Black song
Thumper6488> and Sown By The Riverside
Thumper6488> Shirley: Which story did you like best?
Thumper6488> Lourtet: how about you?
[shirley] ype HEREI'm here to learn. I'm not familiar enough with any of
- them to answer intelligently.
[tabonnefee] what was the attraction to those two?
[Lourtet] Ditto!
Thumper6488> Cool
Thumper6488> Long Black Song, I guess because I was familiar with it
[tabonnefee] familiar how?
Thumper6488> Down By The Riverside, I was captivated by that one.
Thumper6488> It was part of a movie called American Song.
[tabonnefee] oh ...ok
Thumper6488> Except, in the movie, the relationship with Sarah and the
- white man was more romantic
Thumper6488> Kinda like fall in love for the night type of thing
Thumper6488> But in the book, it was as if Sarah had an itch that needed
- scratched
Thumper6488> and she didn't care who did it.
[tabonnefee] I think that whirlwind of wrtiing about the encounter between
- Sarah and the white man was a bit confusing
Thumper6488> really? how so.
[tabonnefee] well ... one moment I thought it was an itch thing and then
- the next I thought it was a forced thing and then I was back to the itch
- thing
[shirley] That's romance all right -8->
Thumper6488> LOL
[tabonnefee] lol Shirley
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Thumper6488> There is a definitely a lack of joy in his works
[tabonnefee] Thumper ...that's to put it midly
[tabonnefee] I was actually a little taken back when the good Reverend
- wasn't killed in FIre and CLoud
[shirley] Other than Hurston, isn't there a lack of joy in all works of
- that time?
[Melisha] he was talking about racism
Thumper6488> tabonnefee: I was too
[Melisha] what's the joy in it
[tabonnefee] I think that when we focus on race relations in reading there
- is no joy to be found ...just cold hard truths
Thumper6488> shirley: I disagree. Not without laughter was a good one
[shirley] You got me--as i said--i'm here to learn.
[tabonnefee] we as a people tend to want to bury the pain of the past
- unlike the Jews that want to keep the pain of the Holocaust alive so that
- it isn't soon to be revisited (although that has failed in many countries
- within the last decade itself)
[Melisha] Well anyway can we start from the begining and critique each
- chapter?
Thumper6488> but not all of our lives are concerning race relation
Thumper6488> I mean there's not a funny moment to be had int he lives of
- Wright's characters
[tabonnefee] Thumper ...of course not ...but it is a very common thread
Thumper6488> Sure it is.
[tabonnefee] that's why I think he's an angry man ... too much chagrin
Thumper6488> But what black person in America isn't angry
Thumper6488> I'm angry
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[tabonnefee] some are just more visible Thumper
[Melisha] Also you have to think about this
TO mlynn1> Hello. How are you doing this evening?
[Melisha] a lot of those writers back then were writing for white
- philanthropists
[PRIVATE FROM mlynn1] great, and you?
[Melisha] sometimes they were influenced to write a certain way
Thumper6488> That's true. And wright was one of the first to break that
- cycle.
Thumper6488> starting with this book
[Melisha] I know this is true of Langston Hughes and many others
TO mlynn1> I''m doing well
Thumper6488> that's true. but is life ever that hard
[Melisha] Thumper did you grow up with a silver spoon in your mouth?
[tabonnefee] lol
Thumper6488> No, why, was I suppose to.
[Melisha] Our experiences of blacks are soooooooooooooooo vast
[tabonnefee] life is as hard as you interpret it to be
Thumper6488> that's right
Thumper6488> I don't think our experiences are that vast.
[Lourtet] More than one silver spoon!
[Melisha] He may have really been upset with racism during his time
Thumper6488> you mean the spoon was silver
[tabonnefee] folk need to realease what is hard for one may not be hard for
- another ... that doesn't belittle their experience or their interpretation
- of it though
[tabonnefee] realease ... no idea what that word is ....s/b realize
>> Mel has left channel #XC.1141852
[tabonnefee] who wouldn't be really upset with racism at anytime??
Thumper6488> you mean angry?
[Melisha] well can we go through each of the stories because we can argue
- about politics all night and never get anywhere
[tabonnefee] Melisha ... go ahead and start

[Lourtet] Hmmmm-mmm-mmm!
Thumper6488> not that I know of.
[Melisha] Did you all notice the scene where he was beating the snake in
- the whole

[Melisha] okay thump your just sarcastic. I c it now. Lol
Thumper6488> OK, Melisha, finish telling us about the snake
>> shirley has left channel #XC.1141852
[Melisha] Well it seemed to me that richard was eluding to Big boy being
- like that snake in the pit
Thumper6488> I don't see it
Thumper6488> I hate to do this but our hour is up.
[Melisha] ?
Thumper6488> Yeah, our hour. the meetings only last an hour.
[Melisha] we just started talking
Thumper6488> I know.
[Melisha] well does everyone have to leave
[Lourtet] What about the snake?
Thumper6488> YOu can keep talking. but I have to go
[Melisha] alright
Thumper6488> Next month: The book is Liar's Game by Eric Jerome Dickey.
[Melisha] maybe now we can get something accomplished LOL
[tabonnefee] Thumper ....can I look forward to a response to my e-mail?
Thumper6488> tabonnefee, yes you can.
[tabonnefee] thank you Thumper .... I appreciate that very much!
[Melisha] Well is everyone else leaving?
[tabonnefee] I have to run ... I have a workshop in the morning
Thumper6488> Anyway, I have to git. Take care everyone. And thanks for
- coming. I;ll see you here next month.