White ignorance of the Negro is always good for a laugh. That, of course, is to be expected. What upper class has ever known members of its lower class? Knowing them would break up the game. It is their functions, not their persons that count—the function of a lower class is after all, to sustain an upper class. Upper and lower are linked, throughout civilized history, in a hellish minuet, but only the lower know the meaning of the steps. What master knows a slave; what colonial administrator, a native; what domineering husband, a wife? That is why the lower race, the inferior sex, the lower class cheat so well and, in their very physical movements, satirize so skillfully, even when the penalties are high. Doesn’t the fury of the white southerner flow from a feeling that he knows he doesn’t really know “our niggers”?
It comes to this. How can one know persons who are treated as objects, for, on the part of the master, in order to maintain the heady...
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