This tale is a forceful and eloquent commentary on the American economic system which conspires to make it impossible for the Black man to acquire anything more than a mere biscuit, no matter how he plays the economic game. If he plays according to the rules, the rules are changed rather than reward him with his just due. If he fails to play according to the rules, others are rewarded for their efforts and he is punished for his failure. He's damned if he does, and he's damned if he doesn't. Everyone knows enough about the history of this country from slavery through reconstruction to the present moment, to be aware of the economic castration suffered by the Black male whatever his reaction - whether he took his little biscuit with a servile smile and a humble "thank you," or whether he vigorously fought for a loaf. We all know also that any man who is unable to protect and provide for his family, any man denied the opportunity to compete with other men for the kinds of jobs that bring a sense of fulfillment and pride, will inevitably be psychologically emasculated. I harp on the word emasculated here advisedly, for as we look at the literary portraits of the black male, we see that the symbolic effect of his economic deprivation is emasculation. The sexual ramifications of this whole situation are as much real as they are symbolic.

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 1975

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1975, Educational and Community Consultants Associates. This article first appeared in Journal of Afro-American Issues: 3:3/4 (1975), 297-308.

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