|I'm a bear. I'm black. I'm a rebel. Grrr. Please help me.|
Now, before some of you start getting riled up about a Northerner (I'm from Maine, originally) offering his opinions on what is essentially a Southern matter, allow me to offer some credentials. I spent a summer at both Southern Miss and the University studying nothing but William Faulkner. I have eaten barbecue, fried catfish, fried dill pickles, hush puppies, Delta tamales, and I have drunk moonshine purchased out of the trunk of a
|Boys, go win one for the Colonel!|
Then there's the matter of the school's nickname, Ole Miss. Yankees like myself seemed to think that it's a corn-pone version of "Old Mississippi." But I've had it explained to me that Ole Miss is actually a bit of an inside joke, running along these lines. Slaves on the plantation used to refer to the white patriarch of the homestead as "Ole Massa," and his wife as "Ole Miss." So, rather than use the Latin expression for the college you attended, alma mater ("nourishing mother"), students and graduates referred to the University as Ole Miss. Because, you know, studying was really hard, as hard as it was for slaves on the plantation. It's a sort of blackface in word-play. And we all know word play is funny, especially in reference to 300 years of brutalization, economic exploitation, and dispossession.
Which brings us back to the Rebel Black Bears. Apparently, there are such bears in Mississippi. There are also such bears in Maine (I've seen them). Interestingly enough, the mascot of the University of Maine -- since 1914 or so, is a black bear. He goes by the name of Bananas. For me, the lack of originality from Ole Miss is a strike against them. And, as a native Mainer, I'm offended. Get your own damn mascot. Keep your hands of my Bananas!
Speaking of bananas, there is also the matter of William Faulkner, of course, whose famous story "The Bear," is read and not enjoyed by thousands of high school and college students every year. The problem here is that, in part, "The Bear" is the centerpiece of a collection entitled Go Down, Moses, in which the main character, Ike McCaslin, in addition to hunting bear, discovers that somewhere in his past there might just be a dash of incest and miscegenation. Strike two on the sensitivity count, Ole Miss. That's why you don't read the Cliffs Notes.
Now, the Rebel Black Bear is, well, black. So doesn't that count for something? Yes, but he's also a rebel bear, so, by some sort of adjective algebra, the rebellion and the blackness kind of cancel each other out. More clumsiness, and that's strike three. The Rebel Black Bear can come tailgate in his Grove attire, but nobody's going to talk to him. He's a walking semiotic Frankenstein monster. Hang your head, Mr. Rebel Black Bear Guy, and get yourself another branch and bourbon.
|"I'll take the over on 'Bama!"|
PN Feedburner | PN iTunes | PN Twitter | PN Facebook | PN Video | PN Goodreads