Wells’ Maine’s “Porch Monkey”

If you’re a Wells resident, as I am, I don’t know if you’ve seen the curious sight that I’m about to tell you about. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to, and I’m going to give you a few reasons why.

So, let’s say our reference point is the Wells Exit or Entrance off the Maine Turnpike. If you exit there, and want to head into Wells proper, you’d go left at the exit light by the Turnpike.

Go left, and you’ll go down a hill (train overpass), but keep your eyes peeled to the left. You’ll see a big log cabin home up on a hill to your left; about half-way up that small knoll you’ll see a small, sculptured porch monkey-who knows, maybe the only one you’d see in Wells, Maine.

A porch monkey on someone’s lawn, and is much like yelling the “N” word in a crowded theater!

Look, I grew up in both the North and the South most of my earlier life. I’ve seen these “racial” harbingers in both places. If you think Northerners haven’t a racist bone in their body-WRONG! If you think Southerners were and are the evil spawners of racism-WRONG! The U.S. is one nation that’s been very unjust due to slavery and Jim Crow Laws, and it has nothing to do with the region of the country you grew up in or still live in.

Albert Einstein, when he first arrived in this country, spoke out many times against racism, and he called it a “white people’s disease.” So, if there’s a perp here, let’s just get honest and call whites the perps when it comes to racism. Why? Because whites have privilege + power=racism. This is one of the most common definition of racism in our culture.

The term porch monkey may not be one you hear all the time, but it got into the news during the Bush Administration. Ever heard of Charles W. Williams? Well, brother Williams, 57, was appointed by George Dubya to oversee Texas’ law enforcement training. Now this appointment came a year after Williams said – in a sworn deposition, mind you – that words like “porch monkey” are not necessarily racial slurs.

He also said that calling my forbears “niggers” 50 years ago was no big deal and, in fact, black folks didn’t mind white people calling them “nigger” in those days.
“I was born and raised with blacks, and back then we had Nigger Charlie and Nigger Sam, Nigger Joe, and we regarded those people with all the respect in the world. That was their name,” explained the south-central Oklahoma native. “It just depends on how (‘nigger’) is used and who it’s used toward,” Williams tried to explain last week. (Reported by Sean Gonsalves Published on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 in the Cape Cod Times).

The point of all of this, even though we’re already separated by years of anti-racism education and legislation, is that the sculpture of an African American (maybe a slave) “porch monkey,” as it’s called, is an objective, material symbol of racism’s main tenet: we are white, we are superior, and you, because you’re not white, but non-white, you’re inferior, therefore, it doesn’t matter what kind a porch monkey you got, it explains and telegraphs the symbolic meaning of racism. “Keep the other folks down, while we keep ourselves up.” That’s why you be hangin’ out on porches all the time!

My hope is that this blog will help explain a small piece of racism of which not many are yet aware. Do some more research yourself, so you can raise your consciousness on the topic. Think critically, and think for yourself. Avoid thinking as only a group of “white peers.” Remember, racism isn’t just a North or South thing-it’s our thing as a culture. So, what’s your responsibility? Do what you feel you can, but please don’t do nothing. Do something to insure that racial healing will take place here in this country. Be open and grow! Help your kids to understand racism, too.

copyright:christopherbearbeam April 20, 2018

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