If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

Warning: Racial/Cultural Observation Ahead

Safety image: the best wheels to put on a CB or CD accord

I’m a dumb white guy but I’m going to be student teaching 4th grade in a 75% African-American school this fall. As I do my teaching methods and tutoring, I’m getting know as many students, teachers, and staff as I can. It’s hard to work all day in the school and not fall for these kids. They’re smart and engaged in school, and all the problems I’ve seen have come from the fact that they’re kids.

It’s also a title I school, and about 70% of the kids have free or reduced lunches and breakfast at school. I’ve been there myself. 


I approach them where they are, and when things get personal, I try to relate to them on a level we both understand. For many of them, it’s the experience of being part of the suburban working class/ lower-middle class. Mom works retail or customer service; dad is a truck driver or does shift work in the industrial sector; we have to go to grandma’s house after school because both parents work late.

Our cultures differ in other ways, and especially in entertainment. Specifically, comedy: What makes us laugh is closely tied to our experience. It’s interwoven with culture, locale, and age.


Yesterday, one of the kids was talking about her grandma and how much she loved Madea movies. My racist in-laws also love Madea movies, but probably for vastly different reasons.

In my observation, every Black person I know who likes the Madea movies has said something about how the over-the-top characters are caricatures of people they know. I’ve only ever seen one Madea movie, but I can see the reasoning.


For my racist in laws, Madea is like a minstrel show. It seems their prejudices change what is obviously a caricature of the strong-willed “crazy aunt,” in every family into “crazy *N* with her crazy *N* ways.”

Of course I could be totally wrong and off base, but I observed that and thought I would share.

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