Sunday, November 29, 2009

White Teacher in a Black School

White Teacher in a Black School is a book by Robert Kendall, a former teacher in the Los Angeles School District. Published in 1964, the book rose to popularity following the Watts Riots and aimed to show the inequality present in schools primarily enrolled with black students. In fact, the book is credited with helping create standards for high school students in California. However, reading this book in 2009 will give you a different impression. Largely written in the dialect of mid-sixties black students, the text can be seen as a dark (and racist) anthropological vision of race relations in the 60s. Robert Kendall was also an actor in several television series and movies. One notable role is an uncredited turn as "Slave Boy with Pigeons" in the 1956 Charlton Heston classic, the Ten Commandments.

Completely coincidental fact: Robert Kendall died this month on November 12, 2009 at age 82.

This collage re-organizes some of the potent speech in the book while also incorporating images that attempt to tell a new narrative through juxtaposition and correlation. The artwork is on five separate wood panels and is not available for purchase. The other main source for the collage comes from an early sixties issue of the comic book Sad Sack. The rest of the images come from an assortment of print media advertisements and the (now-defunct) Weekly World News. Photo prints available on request.

Also, the cover art is pretty sweet.

black teacher white school

black teacher white school
Panel 1, Text A:
“Real sudden some big thing zipped across the whole place. Like a red piece of lightin it was. Scared the shit out a me and scared my chick too cause she grabbed me and I grabbed her back.
Panel 1, Text B:
And lookin down at that audience I think them all was as scared as us were. Some kind of funny spooky smoke came from somewhere. Then some kind of real giant spooky thing that looks sort of like the lines of a man’s hed comes fuzzy like thru the smoke.”

black teacher white school
Panel 2, Text A:
“He said the blacks should do everything they could to take the whites power away. Hit the whites in the pocketbook he says. Give bizness to black man and not to jew.
Panel 2, Text B:
“Cept when it came to pushin the white man out. Save money and buy houses where white man lives. Go to places where white man eats. March in lines demandin the rights that white man has. All kind of crap like that.”

black teacher white school
Panel 3, Text A:
“It was like his face was movin, like when you get mad, and there was two big eyes all red and spittin fire. Scaryer then any monster I ever saw in any movie. Then it started out talking!!!!!!!!”
Panel 3, Text B:
“It had a voice like come from the ded. It said how he had been a slave in Dixie and had been all beat up all the time but when he had given up the terble life he lived and gone to meet Jesus, Jesus had told him that the white man had to pay.”

black teacher white school
Panel 4, Text A:
“He said the more blacks in the world, the more there would be to take the power from the whites.”
Panel 4, Text B:
“He had told him that the white man was inferior and the black man was superior. He said the devil owned the white man’s soul and it was right for the black man to hate the white man cause evil nasty blood was in his vanes."
Panel 4 Text C:
“Then there was a sound like thunder and that old spook shouted to KILL THE WHITE DEVILS. The spazzes started shoutin it and kept it up like some crazy chant. My chick starts cryin and I dont blame her. I wants to cry too. Its all so dam nutty.”

black teacher white school
Panel 5, Text A:
“The orchestra comes up out of the floor agin playin that battle him agin and everbody was stompin and hollerin and carryin on like they was mad. The spook goes back to where he come from and the old curtin falls down on the stage. The spazzes start movin out, still all whipped up. I sort of just stood there, feelin funny, while my chick went on cryin, till that hell hole was empty. The lights went out finely. But I still waited a piece cause I didnt want no crazy nigger killin my chick cause she is white.”
Panel 5, Text B:
“At last we sneaked out a that old rat hole and I nevah want to go consortin with the devil agin!!!!!!!!!!!!”

History of Sad Sack:
Sad Sack Wiki
Robert Kendall's hometown obituary:
Battle Creek Enquirer, Robert Kendall RIP

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