Put a dollar to your ear, you can hear the moaning of a slave
America the great was built off the labor that they gave–Sho Baraka “Maybe Both, 1865”
Over the past few weeks, I have been reading through various story arcs and volumes in the Marvel Universe. Specifically, I am reading Christopher Priest’s Black Panther (1998-2003), Mike Benson’s Luke Cage: Noir (2009), and Robert Morales’ Truth: Red, White, and Black (2003). In the next couple of posts, I want to examine some aspects of these texts that stood out to me as I read them, and I want to explore them within the broader context of ideas I have been thinking about recently surrounding the construction of myth and the importance of having one’s voice heard.
Last Thursday, I wrote about William Melvin Kelley’s “The Only Man on Liberty Street” from his 1964 short story collection Dancers on the Shore. Today, I want to take a moment to look at another story in that collection, “The Servant Problem,” exploring the ways that Kelley addresses the domestic space and sexual policing of black bodies, topics that occur in “The Only Man on Liberty Street” as well. In “The Servant Problem,” Kelley displays the sexual and psychological oppression that Black female domestics experience working within white homes.
I’ve read William Melvin Kelley’s Dem (1967) and A Different Drummer (1962). After reading Eli Rosenblatt’s piece on Kelley in May at Public Books, I decided to dig further into Kelley’s work, beginning with his short story collection Dancers on the Shore (1964). Immediately, two stories stuck out to me from the collection, “The Only Man on Liberty Street” and “The Servant Problem.” Over the next couple of posts, I want to explore each of these stories in a little more detail.