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« STEPIN' FETCHIT AT HOME: 1609 E. 40th St., South Central, CA | Main | Miss Lulu White & The Girls of Mahogany Hall »

October 02, 2012

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Greg

"To begin with, they had to have personality plus in order to survive. They had to smile, comfort and charm when they didn't want to often with people they really didn't like. And if they really wanted to get ahead, they had to be shrewd! They knew how and when to play their hand..."

I wonder Corey if you know just how important the above statement is in reference to the work place of today. Certainly prior to the Civil Rights Movement and the Advent of Affirmative Action policies of the 70's & 80's one had to "act as if...," "Act the niggah!" "Laugh when it ain't funny," and all the other cliches that boil down to using one's wits in order to keep a job. One would think with all that we (African-Americans) have achieved that we no longer need to "Laugh when it ain't funny" in order to get along in a toxic work environment, but that ain't necessarily so. I think with so much covert, swept under the proverbial rug racism & discrimination in the work place it makes for a schizophrenic psyche. One has particular behaviours that are realized at home and particulalr behaviours that are realized at work and sometimes they spill over into the other environment without our realizing it, thereby victimizing those we love.

I watch some of my professional colleagues who are African-American who are well credentialed; "look good on paper," well skilled, etc. and it just amazes me how many of them "cow-tow" & stroke the fragile psyches of "whitey" and Miss Ann" just to have some semblance of peace at work. And I ask myself, are you really at peace after doing the "workplace shuffle?" All the smiling, preening, stroking & smoothing is really nauseating & anger provoking in a supposedly post racial society. But yet, here we are still embracing the "crabs in a barrel" mentality in 2012.

An excellent post as usual my sweet brutha!

 way2ec

Do you have a last name on Jim? And would an image search find more images of him? Their lives were more private than those of the stars, and yet being the voyeur that I am, I wish I could see the face of Jim, to look at him the way I'm looking at Grant and Scott. The images of Grant and Scott are great, nice selection Corey. Am I reading more into them than I should? Even posed it is way too easy imagine I see or feel a special knowing between them. But as you have done such a good job of adding that other dimension, that of the butler, personal secretary, even a pool boy, you are right, what WERE they privy to? Greg above brings it into the modern work place and describes the living hell that comes with "playing the game". I wonder if Jim found himself "playing the game" or "playing the fame" or both. I wonder if he found himself on the inside of those private lives, more as an equal, almost a participant, or if he was left on the outside, more like a guard posted outside the private doors, what he knew or didn't know was irrelevant, only his ability to preserve the image they wanted to project being what kept him in the "game". I'd like to think that these domestics (dare we still use the word servants?) shared a level of trust that gained them not just the respect of others, but self respect as well. Sure makes me value MY invisibility, like a priceless treasure. You ended your post with the men at home, being themselves, no pretenses (if in fact they could keep their public faces from interfering with their private ones). I'd like to imagine Jim going home finally free to drop any fake smiles, dropping all the others' "secrets" at his front door, and lighting the fires of his lover(s) who are even more private and invisible than Jim, and worlds away from Grant and Scott. Nice piece on the price of fame even as it filters through all others associated with it and them.

Derrick from Philly

Fantastic article and photos, Corey. None of the mainstream Gay blogs can do it the way you do (and you know what I mean by "mainstream"). Thank you.

Your article about Stepin' Fetchit prompted me to Google Hattie MacDaniel. I, like everybody else, have always admired her. She played a maid but she was fiece in that role (not backing down to White folks in many of her screen roles). But I was surprised to find out that she often had a contentious relationship with the NAACP and other Black leaders who criticized her work (along with Stepin' Fetchet's). The gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper, even wrote a piece defending MacDaniel from "her own people". That surprised me.

But going back to the Hollywood "help". Yes, I wish the Black Hollywood "help" could have written their biographies including information on the Hollywood stars they "helped" to become legends.

mon88

Dammit I usually just troll but you are spilling hot tea all over my desk your piece on Dinah Washington brought me here and boy am i glad i came. Your blog has a wealth of information, I have never even seen those picture of Cary & Scott never though for a second he was gay. Thank you for posting i will keep visiting good job

Carlos from California

No "Friend" or Best of Friends would pose this close in pictures, and be comfortable in those days. They were Partners/ Lovers. And glad to have seen these photo's

John

@ Greg, I dont think the white male power/privelage or status is at all promoted in modern day hollywood like it was in the 1950's. Seriously, I dont think gay men in this generation of actors would be this in denial of their preference. Alot of gay white male actors come out frequently as well as black actors or celebrities in 2013. The 1950's had a very different structure in terms of how hollywood wanted its leads to be portrayed although I agree there is still some remnant of white privelage in terms of image I dont think its as severe as it was with Carry Grant and Ralph Scott

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