UNCLE TOM AND THE “QUIMBO SYNDROME”

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

Uncle Tom is a fictional character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Mrs. Stowe used the novel with stunning effectiveness as a medium of communication in her struggle against slavery. In her novel, Uncle Tom is the noble and courageous hero, who in his confrontation with the wicked and brutal slavemaster Simon Legree calmly stands up to Simon Legree and is beaten to death for his steadfast dignity. Sambo and Quimbo are the two slaves employed by Simon Legree to help keep the other slaves obedient. Sambo and Quimbo hate Uncle Tom. He is too “uppity” for them.

The Uncle Tom of twentieth century African-American disdain was invented by the white minstrels. They dressed the dignified Uncle Tom in comical and undignified blackface. They made him a buffoon, a lackey and a coward. The worst enemies of the African-American people, using that medium of entertainment known as minstrelsy, dressed up this “Tom” turkey and the African-American people ate it, and still eat it. We hate Uncle Tom. That was the aim of our enemies. And we love Quimbo. Quimbo, the ultra-baad and super-black. Quimbo, the ignorant and violent. Quimbo, who hates Uncle Toms for “trying to be white” (translation: for being “uppity”). Quimbo, who hates careful thinking and patient planning. Quimbo, who wants to just do it. And – I know this from experience – Quimbo, who is just as quick to sell you out for his own thieving pleasure or for the pleasure of his corporate master. Quimbo, who hates himself and his own kind.

from an essay written in 2001

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