ZORA NEALE HURSTON By Andre Austin I never paid any attention to Zora until I was forced to face her in my American literary class in college. She was born in 1891. I just loved her two short stories The Gilded six-bits and Sweat. These two short stories were based in part on her exploring the folklore stories of Black people in the 1930’s. Her book Mules and Men (1935) was a anthropological book of black folklore. I didn’t like reading black language that wasn’t correct English like “whuss de matter, jack” and all that other jive talking. I was mostly attracted to Mules and Men because of its primary research done on Voodoo. I liked Voodoo because this black magic along with yellow fever got the Catholic French the hell out of Haiti. Pat Robertson said the people of Haiti was cursed because they made a pact with the devil to get their freedom from white slavery. Well since Noah was drunk when he cursed Ham, the expression couldn’t have been an expression of God’s will or pact but a compact with white supremacy. Any way from her book Dust tracks on a road (1942) she admits she went under ceremonies to Voodoo priests. One was lying naked on a couch for three days. “In another ceremony, I had to sit at the crossroads at midnight in complete darkness and meet the devil, and make a compact”. All I could say was wow. Is this what Toussaint did to free his peoples from bondage? Hey, By any means necessary. The first time I read Zora name was in Cornel west Book Race Matters. West had said: “Republican Party allegiance of letters, Zora Neale Hurston, are often overlooked by her contemporary feminist followers” (Race First p.74). Six years before her death Hurston attacked the Supreme court’s ruling on school desegregation. She argued that pressure for integration denied the value of existing black institutions. People took this the wrong way. Zora grew up in a all black town of Eastoville, Florida where her father was mayor. I guess Zora didn’t want to see black people integrated out of power. The teachers will have you read her stories first before they will talk about the politics of her time, so that it will not spoil the fun of her exciting stories. Zora simply wrote: “I don’t attempt to solve any problem (in a novel). I know I can’t straighten out with a few pen strokes what God and men took centuries to mess up. So I tried to deal with life as we actually live it, not as socialist imagine it”. So if a vision, dream and a plan comes for a better day don’t write it or try to bring it in existence? Some have accused Hurston’s work of portraying blacks as minstrel characters. Richard Wright condemned Their eyes were watching God (1937) for not having a theme, no message, no thought. Its addressed to whites not blacks. A minstrel show that makes whites laugh. It panders to whites and presents blacks as oversimplified southern experience. Zora later regretted writing the novel. Zora died in 1960 broke. If it wasn’t for Alice Walker author of The Color Purple (1982). Walker found her gravesite and wrote an article about her in a white magazine in 1975 and revived interest in her works. If Black females can only get a Oscar for making the Blackman into a Monster then I keep focusing my attention on The Isis Papers.