Newspapers that championed white supremacy throughout the pre-civil rights South paved the way for lynching by declaring African Americans nonpersons. They embraced the language once used at slave auctions by denying Black citizens the courtesy titles Mr. and Mrs. and referring to them in news stories as âthe negro,â âthe negressâ or âthe nigger.â
They depicted Black men as congenital rapists, setting the stage for them to be hanged, shot or burned alive in public squares all over the former Confederacy. These newspapers entered their bloodiest incarnations during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, inciting hellish episodes of violence during which white mobs murdered at will while sometimes destroying entire Black communities.
African Americans who fled these Southern horrors found the white Northern press only marginally less hostile. Yankee papers that congratulated themselves for opposing lynching in the abstract justified it in practice by depicting the victims as naturally disposed toward heinous crime.
As the historian Rayford Logan writes in his iconic study of this period, the white Northern press cemented the stereotype of the Negro barbarian by making Blackness synonymous with crime. Headlines included phrases like âNegro ruffian,â âcolored cannibal,â âdissolute Negressâ and âAfrican Annie.â By portraying Black people as less than human, the white popular press justified the reign of terror that the South deployed, while stripping African Americans of the rights they had briefly enjoyed during the period just after the Civil War known as Reconstruction.
Since the early 2000s, historically white newspapers in Alabama, California, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and North Carolina have apologized with varying degrees of candor for the roles they played in this history. When read end to end, these statements of confession attest to blatantly racist news coverage over a more than century-long period that encompasses the collapse of Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow, the two world wars, the civil rights movement, the urban riots of the 1960s, the Vietnam era and beyond.
The Raleigh News & Observer in North Carolina has admitted to engineering a landmark episode of racial terrorism â the 1898 white supremacist coup that overthrew the government of the majority-Black city of Wilmington. The Montgomery Advertiser in Alabama, once the voice of the Confederacy, acknowledges being complicit in racial terrorism through the 1950s. The Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky could well have spoken for hundreds of newspapers when it confessed that it had âneglectedâ to cover the civil rights movement at a time when that movement was changing the face of the country.
The Orlando Sentinel touched on a familiar theme of the struggle for racial justice when it repented for supporting the wrongful prosecution of Black defendants, known as the Groveland Four, who were charged with rape in 1949. The paper was known as The Orlando Morning Sentinel when its bloodthirsty coverage featured a front-page editorial cartoon that depicted four empty electric chairs under the headline âNo Compromise!â A threatening editorial warned that âinnocent Negroesâ might suffer if civil rights lawyers sought to free the defendants based on âlegal technicalities.â
The Los Angeles Times apologized for being âan institution deeply rooted in white supremacyâ for most of its history and admitted to a record that included indifference and âoutright hostilityâ toward the cityâs nonwhite population.
The Kansas City Star confessed that it had âdisenfranchised, ignored and scorned generations of Black Kansas Citiansâ and ârobbed an entire communityâ of âdignity, justice and recognition.â While showing keen interest in military operations abroad, the paper noted, it remained silent when bombs exploded in the homes of Black people not far from its own offices.
The Star shut out even world-famous Black Kansas Citians like the saxophonist Charlie âBirdâ Parker, who did not get a significant headline in The Star until he died, in 1955 â âand even then, his name was misspelled and his age was wrong.â When a flood devastated the city in 1977, The Star and its sister paper focused on businesses and suburbs, all but ignoring the fact that the flood had also swallowed homes of residents in Black areas. The newspapers showed more concern for missing pets than for Black citizens whose lives had been swept away in the torrent.
The apology movement is historically resonant on several counts. It offers a timely validation of the besieged academic discipline known as critical race theory â by showing that what news organizations once presented as âfairâ and âobjectiveâ journalism was in fact freighted with the racist stereotypes that had been deployed to justify slavery. It lays out how the white press alienated generations of African Americans â many of whom still view the leading news outlets of the United States as part of a hostile âwhite media.â
The movement illustrates what President Lyndon Johnsonâs National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders â also known the Kerner Commission â was talking about in 1968 when it criticized the press for writing and reporting âfrom the standpoint of a white manâs world.â It also vindicates the hundreds of African American men and women who established anti-racist newspapers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and engaged in open combat with the white press over how Black life would be represented. (...)
I sometimes wonder if some folks would rather be oppressed than ignored...... I digress, or do I?
A long time ago I arrived at the impression (sloppy conclusion) that although slavery was an issue in the American Civil War, it was far from the most important or a pressing priority. Manufacturers in the North were not particularly interested in African slaves but rather selling their more expensive goods to Southern customers. They were more interested in placing steep tariffs on British goods.
My biases are clear. I tend to view modern revisionism of civil war era politics as unhelpful, if the improvement of socio-economic outcomes for the descendants salves is indeed the most pressing objective.
Emancipation or glorious oppression? Not sure that the historically oppressed can always have both.
Charlottesville's statues of Lee and Jackson were erected in the early 1920s with large ceremonies that included Confederate veteran reunions, parades and balls. At one event during the 1921 unveiling of the Jackson statue, children formed a living Confederate flag on the lawn of a school down the road from Vinegar Hill, a prominent Black neighborhood. The Jackson statue was placed on land that had once been another prosperous Black neighborhood.
Their erection coincided with a push across the South to valorize the Confederacy and suppress Black communities, according to Sterling Howell, programs coordinator with the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society.
"This was at the height of Jim Crow segregation, at the height of lynchings in American history," he said. "There was a clear statement that they weren't welcome."
There is a building frustration in the black community, it is about time we started listening to them instead of the "chosen" representatives who quite possibly do not have the black communities best interest at heart either intentionally or unintentionally:
What is the purpose of a liberal education? This is the question at the heart of a bitter debate that has been roiling the nation for months.
Schools, particularly at the kindergarten-to-12th-grade level, are responsible for helping turn students into well-informed and discerning citizens. At their best, our nationâs schools equip young minds to grapple with complexity and navigate our differences. At their worst, they resemble indoctrination factories.
In recent weeks, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Iowa, Idaho and Texas have passed legislation that places significant restrictions on what can be taught in public school classrooms and, in some cases, public universities, too.
Tennessee House Bill SB 0623, for example, bans any teaching that could lead an individual to âfeel discomfort, guilt, anguish or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individualâs race or sex.â In addition to this vague proscription, it restricts teaching that leads to âdivision between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class or class of people.â
Texas House Bill 3979 goes further, forbidding teaching that âslavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to, the authentic founding principles of the United States.â It also bars any classroom from requiring âan understanding of the 1619 Projectâ â The New York Times Magazineâs special issue devoted to a reframing of the nationâs founding â and hence prohibits assigning any part of it as required reading.
These initiatives have been marketed as âanti-critical race theoryâ laws. We, the authors of this essay, have wide ideological divergences on the explicit targets of this legislation. Some of us are deeply influenced by the academic discipline of critical race theory and its critique of racist structures and admire the 1619 Project. Some of us are skeptical of structural racist explanations and racial identity itself and disagree with the mission and methodology of the 1619 Project. We span the ideological spectrum: a progressive, a moderate, a libertarian and a conservative.
It is because of these differences that we here join, as we are united in one overarching concern: the danger posed by these laws to liberal education.
The laws differ in some respects but generally agree on blocking any teaching that would lead students to feel discomfort, guilt or anguish because of oneâs race or ancestry, as well as restricting teaching that subsequent generations have any kind of historical responsibility for actions of previous generations. They attempt various carve outs for the impartial teaching of the history of oppression of groups. But itâs hard to see how these attempts are at all consistent with demands to avoid discomfort. These measures would, by way of comparison, make Germanyâs uncompromising and successful approach to teaching about the Holocaust illegal, as part of its goal is to infuse them with some sense of the weight of the past and (famously) lead many German students to feel anguish about their ancestry.
Indeed, the very act of learning history in a free and multiethnic society is inescapably fraught. Any accurate teaching of any countryâs history could make some of its citizens feel uncomfortable (or even guilty) about the past. To deny this necessary consequence of education is, to quote W.E.B. Du Bois, to transform âhistory into propaganda.â
Whatâs more, these laws even make it difficult to teach U.S. history in a way that would reveal well-documented ways in which past policy decisions, like redlining, have contributed to present-day racial wealth gaps. An education of this sort would be negligent, creating ignorant citizens who are unable to understand, for instance, the case for reparations â or the case against them.
Because these laws often aim to protect the feelings of hypothetical children, they are dangerously imprecise. State governments exercise a high degree of lawful control over K-12 curriculum. But broad, vague laws violate due process and fundamental fairness because they donât give the teachers fair warning of whatâs prohibited. For example, the Tennessee statute prohibits a public school from including in a course of instruction any âconceptâ that promotes âdivision between, or resentment ofâ a âcreed.â Would teachers be violating the law if they express the opinion that the creeds of Stalinism or Nazism were evil?
Other laws appear to potentially ban even expression as benign as support for affirmative action, but itâs far from clear. In fact, shortly after Texas passed its purported ban on critical race theory, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, published a list of words and concepts that help âidentify critical race theory in the classroom.â The list included terms such as âsocial justice,â âcolonialismâ and âidentity.â Applying the same standards to colleges or private institutions would be flatly unconstitutional.
These laws threaten the basic purpose of a historical education in a liberal democracy. But censorship is the wrong approach even to the concepts that are the intended targets of these laws.
Section 5 was by far the most effective way to prevent voting discrimination, but according to Chief Justice John Roberts â who has been working to hobble the Voting Rights Act since he was a junior lawyer in the Reagan administration â the list of offenders was out of date. âThings have changed dramatically,â he wrote in his 2013 majority opinion, pointing to the increase in Black voter registration and turnout in the years since the Voting Rights Act was adopted. It didnât seem to occur to him that this increase was precisely because of the law, and not in spite of it. As if to drive home the point, Republican-led states that had been under federal oversight began imposing strict new voting laws within hours of the ruling.
After 2013, Section 2 was the only meaningful tool left in the Voting Rights Act â indeed, Chief Justice Roberts pointed out this fact as supposed consolation when the court eliminated Section 5. But its medicine was never as strong. Lawsuits alleging violations under Section 2 can only be brought after a new voting law has passed, and may have been discriminating against voters for years. The suits are expensive and time-consuming, which deters most potential plaintiffs. Even when plaintiffs show incontestable proof of discrimination, as they did in Thursdayâs case, the odds are stacked against them.
This is bad news for upcoming legal challenges to Republican-enacted voter restrictions in other states. Just how bad will depend in part on the outcome of a lawsuit the Justice Department filed last week against a sweeping new voting law in Georgia. The suit contends that the Georgia Republicans who passed it, upset at Democratic victories in the stateâs presidential and Senate contests, intentionally targeted Black voters, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Proving intentional discrimination is a high bar, but Georgiaâs lawmakers worked hard to make the job easier, passing all kinds of restrictions that disproportionately hurt Black voters.
My point was to those here, but in the overall discussion, I do agree with your point that it is a universal blame of all white people.
I did try and address that with my earlier point regarding the founding of this country as to how we as a country, allowed slavery to continue, in spite of the objections of the majority. Slavery being a government endorsement of racism separate and exclusive from economics, politics and morality one must conclude ...
Define "white people"! As I just posted and R_P noted, the goalposts of that classification have shifted over time. Groups that weren't considered white became white over time as they were absorbed into the American mainstream.
I doubt that leaders of CRT thinking blame ALL white people. Enslavement and marginalization of Blacks has been the projects of Whites in political, social and economic power to hold on to and increase their wealth and positions of power. Racist attitudes did occur amongst poorer Whites because they wanted a class off people below them to hold lower social and political status. My guess, however, is that racism has endured and flourished when there is financial and political gain in it.
Slavery in the US IIRC was faltering until Eli Whitney's cotton gin made cotton production highly profitable. Cotton production was still labor intensive and required cheap labor, so the demand for slaves rose.
White Southerners in political power after the Civil War faced a tide of Black voters and politicians opposing therm and so enacted Jim Crow laws to hold onto power. The Jim Crows likely also helped suppress attempts at labor organization seeking better wages and working conditions.
In the South, police would help White Farmers and factory owners get extra labor during harvest and peak manufacturing periods by trumping up claims of indebtedness and crimes against Blacks and forcing them to work off their debts on the farms and in the factories.
Yes. As has been mentioned and referenced in this forum, Italians were regarded as members of a different race by Americans of northern Europeans descent. That changed when Blacks moved into new areas and the Americans of northern European descent needed a social buffer between themselves and the Blacks. The Italian-Americans then magically became members of the same race as Americans from northern Europe.