I Heard It Through the Grapevine
The rumors gathered in I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE by the folklorist Patricia A. Turner cover topics such as Liz Claiborne’s unwillingness to see her designs worn by black women, the ingredient in meals from the Church’s Fried Chicken restaurant chain that causes sterility in black men, and the FBI’s involvement in the serial murders of children that occurred in Atlanta in the 1970’s. Some readers may shake their heads in amusement and wonder. How, such readers will ask, can people be so gullible?
Exposing gullibility in the African American community, however, is not Turner’s purpose. In offering both a concise history of rumor throughout African American history and an account of current rumors, the author attempts to demonstrate that rumor often serves positive functions. The rumors to which she gives the greatest attention often involve conspiracies against blacks and threats to the bodies of black people. According to Turner, the rumors constitute a mechanism by which black communities resist exploitation and seek control over their environment.
Turner acknowledges two negative consequences of these rumors: They have disturbed relations between blacks and whites, and they have harmed the reputations of individuals and corporations. Her discussion seems to imply as well that such rumors may do economic harm to the many black employees employed by targeted companies and may discourage businesses from focusing on black...
(The entire section is 354 words.)
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