When I was nine years old and living in Blytheville, Arkansas, I watched with mild apprehension as my former sharecropper parents signed a contract for aluminum siding that would end up costing us our home. Someone had taught my father to write his name, but he had never learned anything more about reading and writing. My mother had as much knowledge of reading and writing as four or five years of schooling in a one-room country schoolhouse could provide. In other words, my parents neither read what they were signing nor understood that signing it would lead to the loss of their ramshackle but, nevertheless cherished, property. I learned later that my mother had wanted to have someone read the contract for them, but she did not want to inconvenience the salesman. The year was probably 1961, and in 1961 I had no intimate or firsthand relationships with black people who would actually challenge white male authority, which is how my mother felt her request to have someone read the contract would be taken.
KeywordsLegal Discourse Legal Doctrine Black Candidate African American Culture Aluminum Siding
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