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I found Dr Saul’s piece offensive and patronising

July 23, 2014

Dear Sir,

Dr Saul’s Op-Ed on July 21, 2014 was offensive and patronising. The account he retold third hand was obviously embellished with adjectives like “thrilled” and “wonderful” describing the process by which the black families in that area were displaced.

The most offensive part of his piece was the suggestion that folks were “speechless” that the women residents would “benefit” from “real jobs” like cooks, domestic workers, seamstresses etc and that “this work would carry on for generations”. Dr Saul’s writings would not have been out of place in 1914 or 1814 even. It conjures images of that scene in The Colour Purple where the character played by Oprah Winfrey is asked by the white mayor’s wife “Don’t you want to come and be my maid?”. Oprah’s character’s response is also mine in this case: “hell no!”.

The tragedy is that Dr Saul feels empowered to write in such a demeaning manner and that his views as expressed have caused little or no outrage. The other, and more ironic, aspect of this Op-Ed’s premise is that it mirrors the current thinking of so many today. The only differences are that international business has replaced the rich Americans of yore in Tucker’s Town. The message is the same: do as you’re told and these low-level, low paying jobs will be available to you in abundance.

You cannot speak this over a people and expect contentment in this modern era. It is unnatural and the results breed resentment and dissonance. I don’t expect for Dr Saul to express himself any differently. He is who he is. What I do expect is for him to understand that his characterisations of overjoyed blacks, happy in their roles as domestics and labourers is offensive and historically inaccurate.

Yours truly,