One of the first problems in the study of folklore is, of course, the collection of materials. In almost every area of Black folklore, the collecting was initiated by whites. As I have noted elsewhere, "Black folk forms seem to thrive quietly and abashedly in the Black community as items of private enjoyment and public shame until they are ' discovered ' by whites who legitimize them for the American public-Black and white. Such has been the case with the general folk tales (the animal tales, the etiological myths, the Slave John tales, etc.), the spirituals, and the blues. The latest discovery made by white Americans has been that most obscene, perverse, and militant and roost carefully concealed-of all Black folk expressions the toast." Many of the collections of Black folk materials are not representative of the prevalent popular lore, either because the collectors sought only certain types of material or because the informants related to them only selected materials, because of their race.

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Copyright © 1977, College Language Association. This article first appeared in CLA Journal: 20 (1977), 547-553.

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