The Grumpf’s racial politics
By Emword and Jayword Foozle
When the Grumpf re-appeared, he started making policy announcements left and right. It was clear to us that he had heard about the incipient candidacy of Rooster, a mere foozle, and that he appreciated the gravitas of the political situation in the Valley—or at least some ogre advisor did.
“I understand that some of the foozle find a certain word starting with ‘m’ to be deeply offensive and capable of inciting them to violence,” he said from his tower, his face blackened by the fire he’d managed to survive. He paused his pronouncements with that ridiculous and pompous grandiosity of his, and then, like a total ass, he actually said the word.
“Monkey,” he said, nearly shouting. “Some say it’s a magical word that invokes demons.” The Grumpf showed his orange palms to the crowd, as if to suggest he’s no one to judge such things. “But from now on,” he said, “that word will not be legal in this valley.”
Several chimp foozle with protest signs nodded at each other, and you could see those signs limping, their angle a little more relaxed with each passing moment. In another corner, I saw Monkey Foozle—Jim, I think’s his name—look up from the fecal matter he was inspecting and smack his forehead with his hand (not the one with the poo in it, of course).
There were some loud boos from the crowd, and the Grumpf stomped his foot again, shaking the ground beneath us, even putting a crack in the balcony of Grumpf Tower. The crowd got quiet and he went on. “From now on, we will call all Chimp Foozle ‘Em-word’ instead, to show that we respect their wishes.”
No cheering. Nothing at all. No one even bothering to mutter what a stupid idea it was. The Chimp Foozle next to me didn’t know what the hell to do with their signs, one of which said ‘Say NO! to the M-word.’ I suspect there was political pressure for some policy decision like that—his braintrust had counseled some sign that the Grumpf understands race politics here in the Valley, something to up his numbers in the recent polls of likely voters.
“I hope that makes you liberals happy,” the Grumpf said, then turned to walk back inside, muttering “Vote for the Grumpf” on the way.
He came back out a second later, and roared to get our attention. “I almost forgot—I didn’t forget, just almost,” he straightened his cornflower blue tie, an ill-conceived clash against his red and orange skin and dark brown suit. “The same goes for the J-word.” He smiled, relishing saying it. “Jackass,” he shouted through his smile. “No more Jackass Foozle. We can’t say it. From now on, all Mule Foozle will be called Jay-word Foozle,” he cleared his throat and coughed into his teensy claw, “out of respect for their wishes.” He waited for the crowd to respond. When nothing happened, he growled again and then turned to head back to his luxury penthouse at the top of Grumpf Tower. He threw his arms up as he walked through the double-doors, his head knocking through some of the frame as he entered. He was pretty upset.
And truth be told, we weren’t too happy either. The real victim here, though, has simply got to be Jim and his family. Ever since that day, he can’t even call himself the kind of foozle he is. He hides his tail, like most do who have em, but he wears his foozledom in his face, like Rooster. He can’t just hide what he is. Can you imagine? Having your very existence associated with illegality? That poor primate. Whatever we Emword Foozle got outta the deal, it certainly came at a cost.
They call me Emward because they think chimps look like monkeys, as if all primates are just identical. They don’t see the stupidity of it. My real name, the one I use where I’m from over in Boone, out on the other side of the mountain ridge over there, past the marshlands and the cat-fields, that name, that’s just Carson. Here, though, anyone who looks like me, and you know I mean primate-faced, goes by the name Emward—not that it’s a common name. It’s not. There’s only like four or five of us anyhow. But what the hell do I care, if a man wants to call me a diff’rent name. It don’t matter. His name for me is Emward, and it don’t make no diff’rence that the name ain’t mines. They call you it long enough it is your name, you know what I’m sayin’? It ain’t like it’s science. Hell no I don’t like it, but whatcha gonna do bout it? Nothin’ you can do.
The land of the Grumpf ain’t like what I thought it’d be, ain’t like the stories that come outta this here valley—about buildings made of gold, and everyone having their own jetpacks, and a job for every foozle. When I first walked down Grumpf Avenue, toward the Plaza and The Grumpf’s Market, I’ll admit I was in fact awestruck—just by the scale of the venture, really, by its scope. But I also knew—and I mean right away—that this was not the place everyone’d heard about.