Great archival piece by W.E.B. DuBois, written for the Mark Twain Quarterly in 1942-3.
“As it is, one can only say, that to the oppressed and unfortunate, to those who suffer, God mercifully grants the divine gift of laughter. These folks are not all black or all white, but with inborn humor, men of all colors and races face the tragedy of life and make it endurable.”
Mark Twain Journal, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring, 1998), p. 8
*The article originally appeared in the Mark Twain Quarterly (former title of the Mark Twain Journal), in the issue for Fall-Winter 1942-1943 (5.3:12).*
There is a feeling among most Americans that the Negro is quite naturally and incurably humorous. One has only to see Africa to be cured of this. There is nothing more dignified nor serious than the African in his natural tribal relations. I shall never forget the sight of a Mandingran Mohammedan striding along in his beautiful white cloak and embroidered boots, tall, black, and with perfect dignity; or the way in which a Black West African went to his knees at sunset and bowed toward Mecca. Further down the coast the chiefs of the villages I visited, the porters, the children had nothing of what we…
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