Stewart Acuff

Oct 3

Email exchange between Stewart and one of his friends regarding his blog yesterday: Republican Hatred and Misogyny.

This is an email exchange between Stewart and one of his friends regarding Stewart Acuff’s blog yesterday entitled Republican Hatred and Misogyny.

Rachel Jackson*:

To me, you’re talking about the ways our people have made it through struggle.  What made them think, what made them laugh, what kept their bellies fed. Scott Brown doesn’t understand that struggle is beautiful.  He buys into that damn near ancient puritanical bullshit that the easier your life is, the more beautiful it is. Clean fingernails, straight parts, sharp creases, shiny things – for him, that’s what proves you’re important, destined to lead, ordained to stomp on everyone else.
You and I don’t buy that.  It could be because we don’t come from it, but I don’t think so. I’ve spent many hours thinking people like Scott Brown might be right, worrying that I’ll never accomplish anything because my wheels aren’t greased like theirs are greased.  Their way of seeing is repeated all around us. We’re surrounded by sounds, songs, images, films, that tell us struggle is bad and that those who struggle are bad. Bullshit.
Struggle makes us strong just like fried hog and okra and grape dumplings and cornbread makes us strong. Fighting the plow and harvesting crops, butchering animals while giving thanks for them, raising babies on nothing and seeing them smile anyway, walking away from homes we love and land we belong to, hugging the trees as we leave them – this is what makes people beautiful.
Not hand creams and shoe polish.

Stewart Acuff*:

Truth is that for me all those different cultures gave me a great appreciation for vocal communication, story telling, preaching, mimicry. For me simple free verse poetry and song lyrics are included. I work at the poetry a little. I do love the community of worker artists you – and Red Dirt Rangers, and Hada and Buffalo Fitz – is just wonderful. You are at the middle of it and that’s a big deal.

Funny how our multi heritage worked. My white grandmother was the daughter of a sharecropper. She married a Cherokee. My other part Black Chickasaw grandfather made his stake for his farm because he had two oxen bigger and stronger with much larger splayed feet than mules to skid cypress and oak and hickory trees out of the Mississippi River bottomlands. When I was a little boy, he taught me the vocal commands for oxen- gee now, gee, that’s it, now get up.

Scott Brown thinks that’s all war whoops and bullshit and fake headdresses. It is a mockery of culture in transition, poultices on chests for chest colds and pneumonia, preaching and story telling and panthers that scream in the night, and conjuring away warts and wonderful mustard greens in the springtime with purple berries and fish fries with hush puppies and field peas and sheller peas, the first day I drove the tractor by myself, at an International Harvester Farmall, and cornbread made in an iron skillet with no sugar and very rough texture that made it taste so good in milk (I confess I never liked buttermilk), and sneaking pulling pork off a hog barbecuing over a hickory fire outside and stealing watermelons and droppin’ them on a gravel road as a way to get a pretty girl to go for a ride with you. That shit is all real, that and fried okra which came from Africa and barbecued coon for church suppers. It is me and my people, all my fuckin’ people who worked their asses off, unlike all those Scott Brown pretty boys.

*The authors gave us permission to post this content.


Stewart Acuff is America’s best-known and foremost labor organizer. He is the former organizing Director of the AFL-CIO. Acuff has also written two books: Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing, and Getting America Back to Work, coauthored by Dr. Richard Levins.

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1 Comment

  1. Kristine

    November 16, 2012


    Be happy. It’s one way of being wise.

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