Pink Bag Series explains privilege in Voodoo books
March 27, 2017
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The Pink Bag Series continued on March 22 on the subject of privilege. Professor Jeffrey Anderson of the history department spoke about Zora Neale Hurston and her impact on Voodoo and Hoodoo.
He compared two writers: Hurston, who is an African-American writer, and Robert Tallant, a Caucasian male writer. Over the years, Tallant’s credibility decreased while Hurston’s increased. Anderson said that there was not much difference in the writings of these two authors.
Tallant used words that described African-Americans in a negative light, describing Voodoo as evil and dark magic. Hurston wrote the same things as Tallant, but she was positive in her interpretations.
Harley Singletary, a junior history major said, “it is interesting to learn about Voodoo and how it is not just black magic. It is more than that. It is a religion to some people and is not all that bad.“
Both Tallant and Hurston plagiarized their works. Both sources are not credible, but scholars and researchers still look to Hurston’s works for information and inspiration.
Anderson said that Hurston put herself into Voodoo and Hoodoo instead of just writing about it. He also explained that both authors wrote about the power of a black cat bone.
Tallant wrote about the ceremony, but Hurston wrote about getting a Voodoo priest, going out and boiling the cat and fighting off demons that came to attack them to get the cat bone.
Senior history major Tyra Toliver was shocked at learning that Hurston plagiarized her work.
“I have always loved her books, especially ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God,’ and it’s disappointing that she is not a credible source,” Toliver said.
As researchers and scholars noticed plagiarism in Hurston’s work, they looked to Tallant’s work as credible. People thought Hurston was trying to write badly about African-Americans to make herself look better. Eventually, things changed for Hurston’s reputation when Alice Walker called Hurston a cultural mercenary.
Anderson said this topic was to show people that privilege does not come in one way. It comes in multiple ways that sometimes does not look like privilege. He hopes that students and faculty can realize and understand what privilege is and the many forms it comes in.