Why are photographers filming in the area?  "Blues Ain't No Mockingbird" by Toni Cade Bambara

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Published in 1971, Toni Cade Bambara's story "Blues Ain't No Mocking Bird" is a narrative about a country African-American family who are proud and possessive of independent spirits.  When two white photographers trespass upon their property, the grandmother rushes outside to confront them.  As they do not greet her, but simply say what they are doing, Granny cuts them off with a meaningful, "Good mornin'."

The two men explain that they are taking pictures for the food stamp program of the county, perhaps to document that some people who may apply do not need the stamps because one man remarks,

"I see that you grow your own vegetables....If more folks did that, see, there'd be no need--"

Nevertheless, Granny feels that the men are exploitative and when her husband returns, he holds out his big hand, demanding the camera:

"We filmin for the county, see," say Smilin.  We puttin together a movie for the food stamp program...filmin all around these parts. Uhh, filmin for the county."

But Granddaddy Cain simply pulls out the film, destroying it, then he calmly tells the men, "This is our own place."