Ole Sis Goose

Eddins, A.W., Brazos Bottom Philosophy (excerpt), 1923Published in Coffee in the Gourd, a journal of the Texas Folklore Society, edited by Dobie, J. Frank, 1923.

The following story was published in 1923, and was likely collected much earlier.  At the time, stories like this were collected and published in dialect, to better reflect the speech patterns of those who were interviewed for their stories and experiences.  Owing to the time and the style in which this piece was published, it contains language which many today find racist and offensive.  However, this piece is important to share and make available, as it accurately captures the institutionalised racism inherent in the American legal system.  This issue is vitally important today, as the Black Lives Matter movement and the high criminal conviction rates for Black people in the USA can attest.  This story not only reflects the historical roots of the social justice issues of today, but also speaks to why Court Case work and works to get someone out of jail are so popular in the hoodoo/conjure/rootwork tradition.

Ole Sis Goose

Ole sis goose wus er-sailin’ on de lake, and ole brer fox wus hid in de weeds. By um by ole sis goose swum up close to der bank and ole brer fox lept out an cotched her.

“O yes, ole sis goose, I’se get yer now, you’se been er-sailin’ on mer lake er long time, en I’se got yer now. I’se gwine to break yer neck en pick yer bones.”

“Hole on der’, brer fox, hold on, I’se got jes as much right to swim in der lake as you has ter lie in der weeds. Hit’s des as much my lake es hit is yours, and we is gwine to take dig matter to der cotehouse and see if you has any right to break my neck and pick my bones.”

And so dey went to cote, and when dey got dere, de sheriff, he wus er fox, en de judge, he wus er fox, and der tourneys, dey wus foxes, en all de jurrymen, dey was foxes, too.

End dey tried ole sis goose, en dey ‘victed her and dey ‘scuted her, and dey picked her bones.

Now my chilluns, listen to me, when all de folks in de cotehouse is foxes, and you is jes er common goose, der ain’t gwine to be much jestice for you pore nigger.