Buckwheat Unchained

Weinstein Co./MGM
Weinstein Co./MGM

(The Root) — There was a beehive of activity when I arrived at the Home for Retired Racial Stereotypes. Buckwheat and Kingfish, dressed in hard hats, were going over some blueprints while Tonto and Charlie Chan unloaded bricks from a pickup truck and the Frito Bandito adroitly maneuvered a backhoe. Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben stood on the porch, setting up trays with coffee and sandwiches for the workers.


"What are you stereotypes building now?" I inquired.

"We be adding a new wing to de place," Buckwheat replied in his characteristic high-pitched voice. "We callin' it the Quentin Tarantino Home for Instant Racial Stereotypes."

"Oh," I continued. "You must have seen Tarantino's hit movie Django Unchained and been inspired by what critics are calling his 'most articulate, intriguing, provoking, appalling, hilarious, exhilarating, scathing and downright entertaining film yet.' "

"Dose critics must be of de Caucasian persuasion," Kingfish chimed in. "We ain't payin' to see no movie dat disses our ancestors who suffered in slav'ry! We'll snag it on a bootleg DVD or wait 'til it come out on cable!"

"But how do you know that it insults our forebears if you haven't seen it?" I demanded.

"We just knows the same way Spike Lee do, and he ain't seen it, either," Buckwheat snapped in an irritated squeak. "You ain't askin' him all dese kinda questions, is you?"


"Calm down," I responded. "I'm just trying to understand why you are building a new wing to honor someone whose work you find so offensive."

"It oughtta be obvious even to a nincompoop like you, bru-tha White," Kingfish interjected. "We seen enuf of Tarantino's movies to know what he's up to without seeing this one — gratuitous violence, racial exploitation and a whole lot of MFs and n-words! Besides, we has our ears to de ground, and we hears what people who has seen the movie are sayin!"


"Go on," I encouraged.

"What dey are sayin' is dat Tarantino may be a mess, but he sure know how to make movies!" Buckwheat exclaimed. "It ain't every day you see a black character kill all kinda white folk, includin' a mousy white woman, ride off into de sunset and get white folks cheering for him!


"Dat makes Django a rare and endangered species!" Buckwheat continued. "We wants him and Broomhilda to move in here wid us. If they keep ridin' all over the antebellum South causin' mayhem, the paddy rollers are sure to catch 'em!"

"What a laudable notion," I replied in genuine admiration.  "You want to provide them with sanctuary, sort of like the Underground Railroad."


"You got it," Buckwheat continued. "It been a long time since anybody come up with a new racial stereotype like Django! He a lot more creative den dat downtrodden ghetto girl in Precious or dem dysfunctional folks in de Big Momma movies!"

"Ain't dat the truth," added Kingfish. "Don't nobody know racial stereotypes like Buckwheat, and I knows racial stereotypes! And Django is a stereotype's kinda stereotype! He belong here with de otha' truly seminal clichés like us! He and Broomhilda will be right at home!"


"Dat's right," Buckwheat chimed in. "All of us is changin' our names to help dem feel comf'table when dey gets here! From now on you can call me DBuckwheat, and dis here is DKingfish."

"Don't forget dat dee d is silent," added Kingfish. "Now, leave us alone so dat we can get back to work. You done wasted enough of our time."


Jack White, a former columnist for Time magazine, is a freelance writer in Richmond, Virginia.

is a former columnist for TIME magazine and a regular contributor to The Root.