< Hi. I'm a Nigger
Hogeye Bill

Hi. I'm a Nigger

Hi. I'm a nigger. Always have been. I wanna tell you a story about what happened to me and some people I know. Some a them academe types might wanna call it a metaphor. Whatever. I'll just tell it as I saw it, and you can do what you want with it.

It all started for me when Boss Man wouldn't 'low us to trade eggs for grits. This wasn't the first time Boss Man tried to gouge us. He been gougin' wimmin long's I can remember. But it was the first time he done somethin' that got to me. Directly. See, we used ta trade our extra eggs to the next plantation down, an' get some grits and maybe chittlins and such.

So the Boss Man come 'long and say we gotta sell our eggs to him, and he'll get our grits for us. But he gonna take his cut 'cause they's his property. So he had house nigger Sonboy take out the Boss' cut, and we got a lot less grits and chittlins. Sonboy'd collect the eggs, calling it the Aggrivation Act.

Well, we got pretty good at egg smuggling after that. And eatin grits on the sly. And keeping mum about it. Then the great foreign feud came. Big Boss spent a lot of time away, disinterested in the plantation and our eggs. Fo' long, we was runnin' the place. Sellin' not just eggs, but cotton, lumber, and hemp. Sonboy got voted out, and Dumb Willie voted in. Dumb Willie isn't stupid - he just cain't talk. So he cain't give orders. He won by a landslide.

Back then we figured it was moot. We was plannin' to divvy up the plantation 'mongst the families, an' maybe arm up in case Boss Man come back. But word was, Boss Man had his plate full with family feuds, an' wouldn't be back anytime soon. An' sho' nuff, not long later Sonboy read Boss Man's letter, saying he surrendered all claim, and God be with us.

Oh, we had one hellova strut that night! Danced, got drunk, Dumb Willie's kid read somethun he wrote hisself - called it his Article of Congrat'lations. Things started getting back to normal almost, 'cept for makin' homesteadin' plans, makin' lists of buildin' materials, and such.

Somethin' wackey happened here, and even ponderin' all this time I still don' know why. Sonboy had pretty good influence on ol' Dumb Willie, I suppose. When Dumb Willie called a meeting, with him and Sonboy and Preacher Roy and Franklin, I thought nuthin' of it. They're always plannin' stuff. Well, they locked themselves in a room all night, drinkin' an' carryin' on, an' next morning Preacher Roy tole us about the Emancipation Constitution.

'Stead a' divvying up the plantation 'mongst the families, homesteadin', he tole us that we's too unedumacated to farm a plot ourselves. But he had some friends who'd help us. For now, we should stay in our shanties 'til Dumb Willie sets up some house-raisin'. But we gotta pick that ol' cotton 'til we can afford it.

Sonboy's friends shore looked a lot like Boss Man's foremen, ceptin' they didn't razz the wimmin as much, and they was darkies. That Emancipation Constitution was real sophisticated. Stuff about general welfare an' inter-plantation commerce an' what all. I didn't really understan' it. Then Sonboy sez we cain't trade eggs for grits no more. Gotta pay for the Emancipation Constitution.

So now I lives here, in this shanty. Things is about the same. Sonnyboy still tolls our eggs and steals chittlins. The darkie foremen call theyselves "developers," and make them that wanna build buy land from 'em. They call's it an Emancipation Land Company title. Not many of us can 'ford that!

We're gittin pretty good at smugglin' eggs again.

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