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Perhaps some of the confusion comes from not differentiating between the
Brer Rabbit stories which are African-American folklore and Uncle Remus,
not a folklore character but a creation of Joel Chandler Harris who was
writing for a white audience.  If memory serves, the basis of the Harris
stories was that kindly Uncle Remus used these stories to entertain a
wealthy young white boy. For a while I did not use these stories in my
school at all because our African-American parents did find them
offensive. Julius Lester, Pinkney and others have brought them back by
taking out Uncle Remus whom they saw as demeaning to African-Americans
and attempting to restore the stories to their original context while
simplifying the Gullah dialect and adding modern touches which they felt
would make them more understanding to a new generation. Lester, who is
African-American gives a thoughtful explanation of this in the
introduction to one of his collections. I'm not sure, but I think it
might be in Jump, the tales of Brer Rabbit.

Not all critics agree that they have succeeded, but I personally felt
that I needed to be guided by the opinions of Black scholars in the way
that I shared African and African-American stories with my students.

I saw SOTS as an adult when it was re-released in the early 70's and I
think the objections are that Disney took the Harris stories and
compounded their patronizing and demeaning aspects.

Paula Neale

LMS, retired

Kansas City, MO

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