Black Damnation Cont.

SO, yesterday I left the class pretty pissed off, but rightfully so. I couldn’t clearly articulate what I wanted to say without having everyone interrupt so I just thought I would do it here. Enjoy.



A man that obviously committed a crime. Incest. BUT like I was TRYING to say. Let’s look deeper into his character. Obviously he’s uneducated because of the way he speaks: ” She’s droolin’ green stuff and gits to pukin agin, and when I goes to touch her it gets worse” (Ellison 65). Clearly Ellison made the deliberate decision to make him speak this way. Ok. Now that we’ve established he’s uneducated, let’s now look at the circumstances in which he lives. True blood says, “You see suh it was cold and us didn’t have much fire. Nothin’ but wood, no coal: I tried to git help but wouldn’t nobody help us and I couldn’t find no work or nothin’. It was so cold al of us had to sleep together; ” (Ellison 53). Cool, now we see the extent of his poverty. NOW THIS IS THE PART WHERE I LOST EVERYONE… YES! He did screw his daughter and knocked her up committing the horrible act of incest. BUT let’s remove Trueblood from the equation shall we? What if we were to Substitute Trueblood with a middle class white citizen? Where he had heat and separate rooms and a job…Would our feelings about the incest be different if the white man then deliberately went into his daughters room and raped her? Maybe, Maybe not. I think the social factors around Trueblood influence our perception of him and his actions, A LOT. Poverty effects people in ways that privileged people like us aren’t aware of. A lack of education? Well, obviously having no education is something foreign to all of us but those things, I would imagine take a really big toll on a person and their thought process. Ok, I have more to say, but that will cover my bases for now.


Take Care



5 Comments so far

  1.   Brandon Hernandez on October 1st, 2016

    Tracy, I see where you’re coming from, but I’m not sure I understand the connection you’re trying to make.

    Is the connection that socioeconomic and racial status plays a factor in incest? And that depending on these aspects, people will have a different view of whoever’s committing the act?

    I do believe that these aspects play a factor in one’s education on incest, but it doesn’t change my perception of people who commit the crime despite race, socioeconomic status, or gender.

    Also, you said that we might feel different if the middle-class white man raped his daughter. Rape is another topic on top of incest. Rape is considered rape no matter who it’s with. If the incest between whoever is consensual it would be a whole other topic as well.

    Something recently appeared in the news that caused an uproar. A mother and son admitted to an incestual relationship based on their love for one another. After their arrest, there was an outrage on whether or not they should’ve been arrested. Here’s an article arguing the latter side:

    As for poverty taking a toll on education, I’m sure statistics can back that information up but I don’t think it plays much of a role in incestual relationships. I believe incest is more of a psychological issue.

  2.   tracy on October 2nd, 2016

    I talked this over with a few distinguished professors from the department and although some of them don’t agree with my point they understand it.

    Basically the point I was trying to make is Truebloods economic status and race play with the readers emotions whether we want to believe it or not. A great book to reference for this Racism without Racist by Bonilla- Silva. He basically makes the point that no one wants to believe they are racist and some may not even realize they are racist, but race does play into our perception of people.

    As for rape vs incest- the lines are pretty blurred in this specific case because the age of consent as we now call it. Believe it or not there were regulations to the age of consent going back to the 1800’s in America and SPECIFIC guidelines with race and sexual relations concerning that. You can check them out here :

    So technically, Trueblood DID rape his daughter while also committing incest.

    Here’s another link to some reading that may make my point a little clearer:

    Jean-Charles, Régine Michelle. ““I Think I Was Rape”: Black Feminist Readings of Affect and Incest in Precious.” Black Camera 4.1 (2012): 139-60. Web.

    Here’s a little bit from the abstract: “The essay focuses on each of these premises to argue that placing the rape scene within a larger discourse of sexual violence and deploying a black feminist critique to do so serves to problematize the role of audience affect and incest narratives”

    She focuses her argument on the movie Precious and the book Push by sapphire, but she looks at the rape and incest between the main character, Precious, and her father…

    I do agree that incest and rape are horrible acts, but I’m more curious as to WHY Ellison put this in his book and put it in the way he did. He could have made different choices, but he specifically made the narrator go to Truebloods house… why? Other characters had the same question.. why show him this specific black family… Enjoy

  3.   Jason Tougaw on October 17th, 2016

    This is a great question–the question, really: “I do agree that incest and rape are horrible acts, but I’m more curious as to WHY Ellison put this in his book and put it in the way he did. He could have made different choices, but he specifically made the narrator go to Truebloods house… why? Other characters had the same question.. why show him this specific black family… ”

    In terms of affect, the scene seems to elicit discomfort, but it’s also told in a farcical way. So form and content push at and pull against each other. I’d argue that Ellison is interested in getting his readers to feel a mix of strong, unsettling emotions. But your question remains: Why? I don’t think there’s any clearcut answer. Interpretation is the only route to various answers, but they won’t be absolute ones. One effect is to create the kind of debate you’re engaging in here.

  4.    on October 18th, 2016

    I’m having a little trouble following like Brandon, but maybe because I’m not comfortable with where I think it’s leading. I’m confused if you’re trying to imply that we’d be more or less sympathetic towards a white, middle class man committing incest, and whether that would change if we considered that Trueblood’s poverty and lack of heat is what originally set up this situation?

    I’m going to agree with Brandon and say that race, socioeconomic status, or gender won’t make me excuse incest. For me, I’d say the opposite is true too, I don’t think I’d find someone more guilty of incest than another. To take your example, I wouldn’t say a white man that went into a daughter’s separate room is necessarily any more heinous (even though he has less of an “excuse” than Trueblood). I’m not sure I could create degrees of heinousness regarding incest (I’m limiting this to non-nonconsensual incest which implies rape). Besides, Trueblood’s in depth description sounded just as deliberate as someone who premeditates the act because he consciously thought mid act whether or not he should stop, and he opted not to, and even convinced himself it was consensual…

    I think you make a good point though about why Ellison placed it in the book the way he did. Following your idea of swapping Trueblood for a white man, someone considering race and poverty might argue Trueblood’s not really guilty, but in some ways even a victim of his circumstances. That approach would explain why the white people reacting that way because then on some level, they’d have to admit they’re complicit in his crime because of the system that allowed his poverty. The fact that all the black people shun him might support this idea too. I didn’t give it much thought until you brought it up, but the narrator’s anger when he saw Mr. Norton give Trueblood money might be Ellison’s way of criticizing how we racialize criminal behavior and more importantly, the implied radicalization of morality.

    Readers might expect Ellison to say that black people criminalized simply because of their race, but then readers wouldn’t be nearly as shocked (especially not current readers). Maybe Trueblood’s story is controversial because it’s Ellsion’s way of saying the opposite is true too. Meaning that just because white people have excused Trueblood’s crime doesn’t make it ok. The black community in the book wants to hold Trueblood accountable. They don’t support being excused of a crime if it means they’re being held to a lower moral bar because of their race or class.

  5.    on October 18th, 2016

    Sorry, i meant racialization, not radicalization. Autocorrect decided that’s not a real word…

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