Dr. Ngozi Onuora


"Images, Stereotypes, and Tropes, Oh My!"

 An Ideological History of Black Portrayals in Literature"

Dr. Ngozi Onuora is an assistant professor in the School of Education at Millikin University where she specializes in teaching literacy courses to early childhood and elementary education majors in the teacher education program. She is a member of the International Literacy Association, Literacy Research Association, National Council of Teachers of English, the Illinois Reading Council, and the Macon County Reading Council. She serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Illinois Reading Council Journal (since 2012) and is a member of their Children's Literature/Reading Special Interest Group (SIG). Additionally, she has served as Vice-President of the Macon County Reading Council since 2013.

Dr. Onuora loves literature and when she was growing up her mother read to her and she learned early that she also wanted to read everything her mother read. Dr. Onuora asks 3 questions: 1) How have Blacks been portrayed in literature? 2) How do these portrayals impact all of us? 3) How do these images manifest in us still today? She talked about Stereotype’s, Tropes, Ideology, and Portrayal and her definitions of each.

She realized that black people were not portrayed well if at all in literature. She asked her students what are some of your favorite books. One of the books was Little Black Sambo. The problem is that Sambo is a racial slur. This was written in 1899, over 100 years ago. Another example is the Ezekiel series and it is a mockery of black speech depicting a negative image. These were the kind of things that were available.


Some of the tropes for females include Mammy (Fat, black, and ugly, Aunt Jamima syrup until the late 1980’s), Jezebel (slaves looked upon as undressed in the wild a sexual image), and Sapphire (Strong black woman, too independent, Sassy, Angry, Amos and Andy). Some male tropes include Contented Slave, Comic Negro (Happy hearted slave), Wretched Freedman (Unable to flourish on their own), Tragic Mallato (male or female, Trying to navigate 2 worlds), Exotic Primitive (The Cay, animal like, 3/5 of a person, prone to violence), Brute Negro (book Slave Dancer, portrayed as beasts and vicious criminals).

What is the impact of the images that are being portrayed of blacks, still today? Nancy Larrick who was an educator, wrote an article entitled The All-White World of Children’s Literature, based on the fact that the literature she was reviewing did not include images of young black children, and the images it did include were not of substance. The remake of Little Orphan Annie with a young African American girl as Annie received many negative online responses. What that means is that people did now understand that Little Orphan Annie was a story, it wasn’t a real person so anyone could play the part. Publisher are not interested in works by African American authors so not many are published.

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center has published data since the mid 1980’s. What they have found is that about 5000 children’s books are published each year. Dr. Onuora showed a snap shot of the even years from 2002 to 2012. The data showed, in 2002 only 69 books by African American authors, in 2010 only 102 and in 2012 there were on 66. That is only about 1.3%. Pretty sad statistics if you ask me.



We will park cars
April 25 at Rock Springs. And Skip-A- Meal is coming up April 29.



Today we had 90 members, 1 guests, and 1 speaker for a total of 92.


Keith was not here, Charles welcomed Farrell Trout back.


50-50 - WINNER

First place winner was Dave Roberts and second place went to Leon Langhouse. Congratulations, folks.


 Bill Hogg

Bill Pitzman was a guest of Earl Rudolph. Welcome Bi


Sharon Cunningham said the Flapjacks at Applebee’s Fundraiser was a big success and our profit from the breakfast was $1354.60. Thank you to all who sold tickets, waited on tables, and attended, we sold 282 tickets, but only 174 were redeemed. We can do this fund raiser 2 times per year, we may want to make this an annual spring and fall fund raiser. Next Saturday the Early Birds are having a Flapjack fundraiser at Applebee’s from 8:00 to 10:00. Tickets will be available at the door.

Ralph announced the nominee’s for office.

Al Heinrich is all set to park cars at Rock Springs Festival of Spring April 25. All he needs is a crowd.

Don Kamm said there will be a meeting of the golf committee after the meeting this morning.

Don Leckrone said that “Adopt a Street” will be Saturday, May 9. We will be picking up Oakland Avenue working from North to South starting at Pershing Rd down to the old Tallman Cadillac. Please signup we need about 10 people.

Susan Rayhill said pull tabs Thursday for team B, after the meeting she will be selling gear. Beautify Decatur is coming up May 14 at 9:00, meet in the library parking lot.

Dan White read a thank you letter from Bill Clevenger of the park district for our help cleaning up Sinawik Park.




Florence & Don Leckrone: Married March 29, in Hessville, Indiana. This will be 57 years.

Linda & Gary Goeken: Married April 4th, in Decatur, Illinois. This will be 11 years.

Barbra & Jim Higdon: Married April 4th, in Decatur, Illinois. This will be 46 years. Anniversaries

Victoria & John Martin: Married April 27th, in Manitoba, Canada. This will be 52 years.

Terry & Carla Brinkoetter: Married May 1st in Decatur, Illinois. This will be 29 years.


This is Poetry Month and you should hear an epic

We don’t have time for Beowulf or Song of Hiawatha

So here is a brief minor classic:

There once was a Kiwanis Golden

To whom all Decatur’s beholden

Risky is Golden service I fear

From donuts too near and dear

To members both hungry and olden


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