So I wrote this paper…

So, in my English 202 class, Writing about Appalachian Folklore, we were required to do a research paper about a topic related to Appalachia (It’s due tomorrow.). I wrote my paper about folk medicine in Southern Appalachia. As I was doing my research, I came across an interesting tidbit. European descendants inhabiting of this region believed that African American possessed healing power. This is relevant to this class because many believed that the shade of an African American’s skin was associated with their healing power. In Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia, Cavender states:

“The assumption was that the darker the skin, the purer the race, and the purer the race, the greater the healing power Miscegenation apparently diluted that healing power. […] blacks may have promoted and exploited white belief in them as sources of healing power to improve their socially marginal status in racist society. On the other hand, there is also the possibility that they risked accusation of using their power nefariously” (53).

I thought this was interesting because this belief in the healing power of African Americans survived until around the 1940s. Also, some of the practices were a bit strange. For example, if a pregnant woman carried a “kinky” African American hair, she would protect herself from broken bones. Also, many (whites) believed that earaches could be cure be placing a lock of hair (that was usually urinated on) into the ear. What’s the most interesting is the shade or color aspect of healing power. Darker people were supposedly more powerful healers. This color aspect reminded me of the current situation in many African American communities. There is this dichotomy of light and dark with specific stereotypes and characteristics associated with each. It kind of the opposite of what occurred years ago. Some people believe lighter shades are better even though both shades are marginalized (and have been for many years). I haven’t quite unpacked everything that floating around in my head about this topic. I just wanted to spit it out.


One Response to “So I wrote this paper…”

  1. tciteron says:

    Intriguing! Thank you for sharing.