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Lucky Rabbit Foot

Rabbit Foot: The ultimate down-home Southern amulet, carried as a key ring charm.

The belief that a rabbit's foot is lucky seems to have become a commonplace of American popular culture, but at one time in the past this belief was considered a Southern superstition, specifically one of strictly African-American origin. And from what i have read in older books on folklore, in earlier decades, it was only the left hind foot of the rabbit that was considered lucky and the bearer had to rub it to activate the luck. In addition, some people back then believed that the rabbitŐs foot was a source of protective magic in addition to bringing good fortune.

When i was a kid i was given a rabbit's foot that was dyed bright pink and affixed to a little brass-coloured end-cap and strung on bead-chain. I took it to school (this was Will Rogers Elementary School in Santa Monica, Caifornia, circa 1955-56) and i showed it around and a pinch-faced little white Southern boy said, and i quote, "That's a Nigger hoodoo foot."

I did not know what "Nigger" or "hoodoo" meant, so i went home and asked my mother, a left-wing German Jewish refugee. She explained that "'Nigger' means 'Schwartze' but it's not a nice word, so you should say 'Negro' instead," and "hoodoo is a kind of magic, probably like Voodoo." She also told me that dyeing the rabbit's foot pink was "a cheap and modern idea, typical American...typical."