Better Blackness

December 4, 2015

From”The Book of Night Women”

Filed under: Literature — betterblackness @ 8:41 pm
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“…In this place two thing matter more than most, how dark a nigger you be and where the white man choose to put you. One have all to do with the other. From highest to lowest, this be how things go. The number one prime nigger who would never get sell is the head of the house slaves. That position so hoity-toity that in some house is a white woman who be that nigger…After that be the house slaves who work the rooms and the grounds and the gardens. Sometimes is the pretty niggers or the mulatto, quadroon or mustee that work there. Then you have the cooks who the backra trust the most, because the cook know that if the mistress get sick after a meal there goin’ be a whipping or a hanging before the cock even crow. Other house slaves be cleaning and dusting and shining and manservanting and womanservanting and taking care of backra pickneys.
“After the house slaves come the artisan niggermens, like the black smith, the bricklayers, the tanner, the silversmith, niggers who skilled with they hands, followed by the stable boys, coachmen and carters. Next is the field niggers, headed by the Johnny-jumpers who be the right hand and left hand of the slave-drivers. They do most of the whipping and kicking but when the estate running right they have nothing to do, so they whip and kick harder. After Johnny-jumper come the Great Slave Gang, the most expensive slaves, the one who they buy for the long years of hard work. The mens and the womens strapping and handsome like a prime horse…After that is the Petit Gang, the makeup of plain common nigger…Other nigger look down upon them mens as worthless and them womens as good for rutting, not breeding. On some estate even the pickneys work, mostly in the trash gang to pick up rubbish on the estate or to carry water for the field slaves to drink, or to get firewood. That be the negroes.”
-Marlon James, The Book of Night Women

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