Friday, August 18, 2017

Flashback Friday to March 1, 2014

Again, while cleaning up old posts, I came across this one.  In light of current events I am re-posting it.

Black History Month

Black History Month was in February.  I had intended to write a post about it and just never got around to doing it.

One of my reasons for writing about it was to recommend a book that I read last month which is on the NY times Best Sellers list.  It is The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  Perhaps you have read her previous book The Secret Life of Bees or perhaps seen the movie.  It is one of my favorite books.

Anyway, The Invention of Wings is a historical novel about the Grimke sisters of South Carolina.  The women were two of the earliest feminists and abolitionists in America.  If you saw the PBS series The Abolitionists, then you saw Angeline Grimke featured in that.  The author imagines a story of their early life and writes the history of the time to make for an interesting and entertaining read.  It is a book I would recommend.

I personally found the attitudes of Southern churches as written in the book rather appalling.  It hardly seems imaginable that any so-called Christian would have such unfounded ideas about another race of humans.  Which brings me to the other reason I was going to write about Black History Month.

The Detroit Free Press ran an article titled The Impossible Test.   My head was spinning.  The test was given before the Voting Rights Act to anyone who could not prove a fifth-grade education.  There were 30 questions and you had ten minutes to complete the test.  And one wrong answer was failure.

I honestly don't think I would have passed.  For example:

Question 29. Write every word in the first line and print every third word in the same line but capitalize the fifth word that you write. 

WTF?  What 'first line'?  The first line on the test?  Or is it the first line of this question?  I would have spent five minutes just trying to understand.

That is if I had gotten past the first question:  1. Draw a line around the number or letter of this sentence.

OK.  I always thought that instructions told you to draw a circle around something or to underline.  Not sure I ever was told to 'draw a line around' something.  So, there is the number '1'.  But what letter are they talking about?  Is this a trick?  (probably)

20.  Spell backwards, forwards.  Which word?  Backwards?  Which is 'backwards'.  Or forwards backwards?  Which is sdrawrof.

Or 24.  Print a word that looks the same whether it is printed forwards or backwards.  The first one that comes to mind is 'ewe'.  But perhaps they mean to print the individual letters 'backwards'?  In which case I would write 'OHO'.  I mean everything is so poorly written, including using the word 'some' instead of 'same' in Q. 19 who knows what they mean.

Anyway, the days of literacy tests are long gone, but I think that just for fun, they should administer this to all current members of the Louisiana Legislature and see how they do.  I am guessing they would not be voting on anything!  Click on 'the test' link above to try it for yourself.


  1. Thank you for writing about The Invention of Wings - sounds like exactly the sort of book I like. I'm really fascinated by the abolitionists. Have you ever read "All on Fire", about William Lloyd Garrison? It's biography, but reads like a novel. At one point I read a non-fiction book about the Grimke sisters, but can't remember what it was called. They had amazing courage.

    1. I have not heard of that book, but I will add it to my ever-growing list.

  2. THIS! "It hardly seems imaginable that any so-called Christian would have such unfounded ideas about another race of humans."

    1. There is an internet troll on politics who calls herself 'pastor's wife' who spouts the same kind of garbage.

  3. I certainly didn't understand the questions you quoted Denise. It is horrifying that such bigotry and prejudice is still with us today.

  4. OML! What an interesting post! Denise, since you were so kind to let me reblog your other one, I'm going to go out on a limb and think it's ok to do so with this one. Everyone should read it. (If it's not, let me know and I'll take it down. :) ) I may have to read that. I just read "Go Set A Watchman" though I swore I wouldn't. I didn't particularly like the book and wasn't surprised it had been rejected by Lee's publisher. But the last 50 or so pages of it gave me some things to think about.

    1. Be my guest. Try taking the test and let me know how you do.

  5. I knew about those tests, but never knew what was on them. They were clearly created to ensure that the takers fail (I wonder if any passed?). Maybe a better question would have been "Would you vote for a narcissistic madman who spouts racist, bigoted, misogynistic rhetoric and has no control over his impulses?"

    Thanks for the book suggestion, I will put it on my list!

  6. I followed the link to the test, and my goodness, it's confusing! If the compiler took a test on compiling tests he/she would certainly fail!

    Click to visit Keith's Ramblings

  7. I fail...being on the dunce cap! I think the first question is a either circle the word Number or the word letter.


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