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Let’s Hurry or We’ll Miss the Public Lynching
In the late 19th and early 20th century, many books were developed in the United States and the United Kingdom to propagate the devaluation of Black people in their relative societies. Some of the books were so outrageous, comedian Bob Staake’s made ‘Let’s Hurry or We’ll Miss the Public Lynching‘ parody cover to bring light to the era.
Ten Little Nigger Boys
‘Ten Little Nigger Boys‘ was one of several nursery books series that taught white children to count in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. Depicted in the book, caricatures of Black boys are eliminated by a series of events, counting down to the last one. For example: “Five little nigger boys made a lion roar; one got swallowed up, and then there were four.”
The Story of Little Black Sambo
“The Story of Little Black Sambo” is a children’s book written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman, and first published by Grant Richards in October 1899. The name “Sambo” was used as a racist epithet in the United States and although the story was about a Black boy in southern India, the illustrations of the character were similar to demeaning images that plagued Black people during that time.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in the United Kingdom in December 1884, and in the United States in February 1885. This book has been heavily criticized for its racist content, mostly because Twain used the devaluing epithet “nigger” over 200 times.
The Ten Little Niggers
“The Ten Little Niggers” is another counting book for children with the demeaning title that was popular at this time. However, this book was presented as a musical. Young white children sang the words of the lyrics, for example: “Ten Little nigger boys went out to dine; one choked his little self, and then were nine.”
The Secret Garden
“The Secret Garden” is a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which was published in 1911. In addition to the British colonial rhetoric within the story, the protagonist, when presumed to be Black, bursts into tears, saying that Blacks “are not people.”
The Story of Doctor Dolittle
“The Story of Doctor Dolittle” (1920), was written and illustrated by Hugh Lofting, and is the first of his Doctor Dolittle series of children’s novels about a man who learns to talk to animals and becomes their champion around the world. In a subplot of the book, an African man wishes to marry a white princess. After acknowledging the difference of race, Dr. Dolittle bleaches him white, which gave off a ‘burning brown paper’ smell.
The Strange Tale of Ten Little Nigger Boys
“The Strange Tale of Ten Little Nigger Boys” is a children’s novel published by M. A. Donohue & Company, Chicago and followed the trend. The book, which was released in the early 20th century, was thought to be harmless “fun” and was once common.