Take Your Huckleberry Finn and Shove It!

English Lit is making Black kids miserable. Why doesn’t anyone care?

Jeremy Helligar

--

An illustration of Mark Twain, author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Photo: Pixabay)

The other day my best friend sent me a New York Times story about a Black teenager who got a White classmate cancelled. Her delayed downfall began four years ago with a three-second Snapchat video.

After the murder of George Floyd last May, Mimi Groves, a recent graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg, Virginia, posted a message on Instagram urging her followers to support Black Lives Matter. Jimmy Galligan, an 18-year-old former classmate whose mother is Black and whose father is White, responded by posting the aforementioned Snapchat clip, in which Groves uses the N-word.

Galligan sat on the video for an entire year, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Once he did, it quickly went viral, made Groves a pariah on social media, and ruined her college plans.

The narrative reminds me of something I’ve seen play out in movies and on TV shows, though the damning video usually inspires slut shaming instead of racial reckoning. Galligan says he, like many of his fellow Black classmates, spent his years at Heritage High suffering under the profound weight of racism, and he “wanted to get her where she would understand the severity of the word.”

In his version of poetic justice, Groves paid a steep price — probably too steep — for a problem that’s bigger than her and for behavior far worse than hers. Galligan may have taught her a lesson, but vengeance won’t likely protect him from being a target of racism in the future. I don’t see any winners here.

It didn’t surprise me that most of the first dozen or so comments I read under the story sympathized solely with Groves. That’s exactly why I expected them to be outraged. White people are always putting White people’s problems — and especially the tears of White women — over Black trauma.

I didn’t glean this knowledge from reading the comments. It’s actually been on my mind a lot…

--

--

Jeremy Helligar

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa” https://rb.gy/3mthoj