[The Big Smoke reading group]
In "Alias" from Adrian Matejka's The Big Smoke, we encounter a list of the many names that Johnson has been called. Some of the terms are quite derogatory.
Of the names, nicknames, and phrasings that appeared in the poem, which one was most notable to you? Why?
The most notable nickname to me is Colored champion because it's so basic, but describes him so well. A better name for him would have been "The first colored champion" or just "The first" seeing as though he was the first ever black boxing champion.
The name that stood out to me the most was Gentlemen Jack. i just thought it was ironic that he was called that even though he put his hands on his wife.
In the poem Alias Jack Johnson is being called other names besides his birth name. The poem uses naming to signify Johnson. Johnson has so many nick names like the common black man.
The nickname that stood out the most to me was, Black Animal, because it showed what whites really thought of black people. They "justified" African-Americans treatment by saying we were of sub-human intelligence, in other words, Black Animals.
The phrase that struck me was the "Black animal". Not only was the phrase derogatory, it was also very informant of the heighten racism that was prolonged during Johnson's time as a fighter. The fact that they described him as an animal was indeed degrading and not worthy of his character and hard work as a fighter.
I would say in general the nicknames that stood out most where the ones that were not derogatory at all. For me personally the derogatory names all ran together. My favorite nickname was "The Man They All Dodge" it stood out because not many men could actually dodge him, and ironic nicknames are always the best. I would say out of all the nicknames the overall worst was "Colored man with cash". It's just a weak name and the person, based on how racist people were during this time, was probably just some random much less successful person trying to feel better about themselves.
"Colored man with cash" stood out to me. Whomever gave him this alias could not even see his talent. They looked past his championship boxing, and just read the book by its cover. In a way, it reminded me of the poem "Chicken & Other Stereotypes"
the poem listed many of the names jack Johnson was called over the duration of his career.
Lucas Reincke said...
In the poem "Alias," the author lists a bunch of names he has been called or referred to throughout his life and the one that struck me the most is "The Heavyweight Champion." The reason why it stands out among the rest is because of how much adversity this man has faced throughout his life and he still became the best in the world. He was the king of the mountain so to speak in boxing. The heavyweight champion of boxing is considered the "Baddest Man on the Planet" this would make him so at a point in time, which is very revering and eye-opening that this is a man who is breaking boundaries and can be an example to those who are oppressed that one can rise up and become something greater than what society intended them to be.
The alias black animal stuck out to me the most too. Similar to Darius and Jamal's reasoning, I felt the alias showed what whites really thought of black people. Especially during that time frame, whites viewed African Americans as not equal.
The nickname that stuck out to me the most was probably when they referred to him as Gentleman Jack. I feel like this was the total opposite of his characteristics.
The name, "Gentleman Jack", stuck out to me the most. This was because he did not act like a gentleman in some situations like with his wife.
The Most notable nickname to me is "The first". It suggests the the perception of black accomplishments within fighting.
Out of all the names used in "Alias", Texas Watermelon Picaninny is probably the most notable one. Picaninny is a racial term that is used to stereotype black children and it is used as an insult in Jack Johnson's case.
The name colored champion was the name that stuck out to me. He was a normal champion but the colored part lessens the prestige of the title
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