Spit In The Governor’s Tea by Shay Youngblood, 1989
The magic trick:
Subverting the traditional Christmas story through the lens of racism
This story has all the trappings of what you probably identify as a familiar Christmas story.
Our narrator recalls the story as one she heard every Christmas Eve – a sweet family tradition, right? There also is talk of the Christmas spirit early on.
- But all is not as you might assume.
“Spit” takes that familiar and, yes, white, Christmas tale and reframes it through racism. It’s ugly and maddening. But ultimately? As rewarding and triumphant as the Christmas story you were expecting.
And that’s quite a trick on Youngblood’s part.
“The governor went out on the lawn as we was gathering near our separate buses. I remember it clear as day. The governor’s speech went something like this:
“’That was some real nice caroling children. You all did a fine job. How bout another round of applause for everybody.’
“He said everybody like it hurt him, then he said, ‘I would like to take this opportunity to invite Middle T. Morris School and St. Joseph’s Academy to join my wife and myself and our guests in the mansion for a cup of hot chocolate. That was some mighty fine singing from my alma mater and rival school. Come on in children. Merry Christmas to you.’
“He waved the white children over to the front door and welcomed them with a handshake into the entry hall of the mansion.”
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