Blues Ain't No Mockingbird by Toni Cade Bambara

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What is the author's purpose for writing this story? "Blues Ain't No Mockin Bird" by Toni Bambara

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Published in 1971, like many of Bambara's narratives, this story reflects issues that are relevant to the African-American culture.  At the time of her writing, the Black Power Movement was growing stronger.  Among other things, this movement promulgated the importance of self-definition and pride.  Bambara joined the cause of expressing this awareness of a unique African-American culture and traditional oral expression. 

Bambara's depiction of Granny and her courageous resistance to the photographers' efforts to patronize her--when they call her "aunty," she replies, "Your mama and I are not related"--as well as their efforts to exploit her family by taking pictures of them as though they are curiosities are thematic of both black pride and self-definition as well as the assertion of the power of the female. In addition, the narrator Cathy's astute understanding of the conflict in the events establishes her as not only a strong female, but also as an effective storyteller.  Thus, "Blues Ain't No Mockin Bird" underscores the independence and pride of the African-American, male and female, and it also places an emphasis upon the importance of storytelling as a tradition.

 

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Toni Bambara wrote "Blues Ain't No Mocking Bird" during the height of the the Black Power movement in which black pride and autonomous black identity were core components of the movement. In the title "Blues Ain't No Mocking Bird," Bambara asserts that black suffering, and black existence in general, are not objects or entertainment for white consumption/imitation. Bambara's short story contributed to the powerful narrative that coursed through the Black Power movement in which black people prioritized social, political, creative, and economic power and autonomy over assimilation into white society. In "Blues Ain't No Mocking Bird," a black family is exploited by a white film crew who seek to capture their economic disenfranchisement. The strong black grandma in the story demands respect and asserts her strength by refusing to acquiesce to the prying eyes of the white film crew.

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