Adventures in a “Foreign Country”: African American Humor and the South

Reprinted with the permission of artists Jonathan J. Todd

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Adventures in a “Foreign Country”: African American Humor and the South

by Trudier Harris
Southern Cultures, Vol. 1, No. 4: Southern Humor

"For situations that are frequently life threatening, it is at times hard to imagine guffaws associated with them. Yet black people managed to create the essence of the blues—to laugh to keep from crying—in and about a land that was as much hell as it was home."

Black folks in the South. Black folks and the South. Black folks from the South. Black folks against the South. Black folks with the South. Black folks above the South (as in upsouth, New York or Chicago). Black folks under the South (as in the “foot on the neck” image of oppression). These reflect some of the tensions and paradoxes involved in thinking about a people whose American roots are primarily in the South but who have such a strange relationship to it.

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