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Alice Walker

To compare Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use" with the sitcom Good Times from the standpoint of heritage, culture, and race is to compare a portrait of (1) contingency that surfaces when people ignore or discard the value systems that nurtured them in favor of the values of a superficial, market-driven culture on one hand, and (2) putative contingency, wherein the power of cultural stereotypes overwhelms the undercurrent of socioeconomic issues that shape life for many African Americans. The former description applies to "Everyday Use" and the latter to Good Times.

There is also a distinction to be made between two portrayals of what might be called African American authenticity. In "Everyday Use," Dee's adoption of a black Muslim racial identity, including her new name, Wangero, and a man whose own complicated name--a verbal play on the traditional Islamic greeting--is carried out with a solemnity that scarcely conceals the fact that Dee is trying to wheedle Mama and Maggie out of antiques and cultural artifacts of great monetary value. The implied critique in Alice Walker's text shows a capacity for self-scrutiny and the ability not to take oneself so culturally seriously on the part of the narrator that the character Dee does not share and that Mama vaguely intuits when forbidding Dee to abscond with the quilt and other household items. Good Times accumulated a history of controversy regarding the authenticity issue, notably because the highly popular character of J.J., distinguished by his signature tag line "Dy-no-MITE," was perceived as a throwback to the minstrel stereotype of Amos 'n' Andy. J.J. was the outrageous kind of character that, in the minstrel tradition, "quickly became the show's primary comedic vehicle" (Douglas 140), but his very popularity fueled the perception that African American authenticity was characteristically buffoonish. Bayles criticizes the "Hollywood-derived notion of black people as happy-go...

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Alice Walker. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 03:21, January 31, 2023, from