"A Story in Harlem Slang" (1930, 2 pages)
Two Stories by Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Hurston (1881 to 1960-Alabama, USA) was one of the leading writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston had a very interesting life. Born in relative poverty she attended Howard University until she was offered a scholarship to attend Barnard college, an elite women's college at which she was the only person of color in attendance at the time. She graduated, along with her very famous co-student Margaret Mead, with a degree in anthropology. Her anthropological focus was on the customs and speech of African-Americans living in the rural south of the USA. Hurston studied and wrote about people from small towns in the Alabama and Florida very much as her mentor and former professor, Ruth Benedict did in her famous studies of the customs of the people of Polynesia. Hurston also wrote and published a number of short stories, and novels. Her most famous work was her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. ( Halle Barry played the lead character in a recent movie based on this novel. It is too bad Hurston who died in poverty did not live to see this movie made!) She co-wrote a play with Langston Hughes.
In February of this year I read and posted on "Spunk", my first reading of Zora Hurston. Yesterday I read two more of her short stories.
If "A Story in Slang Harlem" was written by a writer who was not of African-American background it would be seen as a racist story playing up standard stereotypes. In my post read research I found that Hurston was the subject of criticism for her treatment of rural impoverished African Americans. I have said before I do not normally like attempts to recreate rural or "country" dialects in the literature I read. I find it breaks the rhythm of my reading and it very often comes across as patronizing on the part of the author. Here is a sample of what I mean from "A Story in Harlem"