I looked forward to the "Pure Fiction" issue [December 27] not only because I submitted a story (with a SASE which you folks didn't politely use to send back a note of rejection), but because I figured (correctly) that there would be at least one story from a black point of view, the politically correct thing to do these days. So what did the Reader do? A story by Bayo Ojikutu, which after reading deeply into, I could not fathom the sex of J.C., the point of view character, and that was a problem. Interestingly, this author's story is the only one shown to have been previously published, as if the Chicago Reader is saying, "Yes, it's silly, but it's definitely black and Three Rivers Press has taken it." The title has black in it, and one of the characters is even named Black! But what I found most depressing about this story was the awful dialect used. Who is the intended audience for this drivel? This Amos and Andy pre-Eubonic speech was barely tolerable 60 years ago when Langston Hughes was doing it (serialized in the Chicago Defender and elsewhere) much, much better. Nevertheless, I tried to read the story, only to be stopped dead by the insufferably long high school classroom scene in which J.C., for ten minutes, squirms, hand waving, doing everything imaginable to get the white teacher's attention because he has to pee. Failing to get recognition, he's angry as hell. So what does he do? Did what any high school student would do under the circumstances: he remained at his desk and pissed all over himself. My, my. This is a pointless story that has nothing essential to say except that it's sho nuff black. Maybe some folks read it and felt good, like seeing a picture of George Bush smiling down upon a black "at risk" kid. "Gimme my respect--that was all I wanted," J.C. insists in the opening paragraph. Hey, next time get up and go to the toilet. Like the teacher said, brother, "nobody was stopping you."
Robert E. Hayes