Quotation by Saunders Redding

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Except for the beast fables, which are anciently derived from the world's multi-racial heritage, American Negro humor is rooted in social oppression. And—again excepting the animal fables—it differs from classical Western and white American humor in another respect. It is totally devoid of those myth-making and myth-transmuting elements and symbols that appeal so deeply to the American mind in the works of the tall-tale tellers such as Davy Crockett, Seba Smith, Mike Fink, and Mark Twain. There are no Rip Van Winkles, Johnny Appleseeds, Paul Bunyans, or Calamity Janes—and none bearing the faintest resemblance to them—in Negro American humor. The myth-making figures in the literature of black Americans are the blues-haunted characters. They are Stagolee, John Henry, and Big Boy; they are Mary Lou, Frankie, and Sister Caroline. And they are not funny, least of all to the nameless hundreds of folk-Negroes who created them and the still-living thousands who love them and perpetuate them in song and story.
Saunders Redding (1906–1988), U.S. educator. Laughing on the Outside, introduction, ed. Philip Sterling, Grosset (1965).
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