posted by semperfortis
1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.
American Heritage Dictionary
A broad and complicated topic filled with emotion, hyperbole and assumption; contradiction, exaggeration and distress. Historical and yet modern in
the connotations and implications as well as the effects and impedimenta that comes with racism. Evident in comedy, culture, industry and economy. It
weaves it's way into almost every aspect of our lives and yet we avoid it, ignore it or blame it on others. This thread is about Racism. Not Slavery
I invite everyone to tell their own story, relate their thoughts and viewpoints on Racism and how they perceive it. understand it, or are impacted by
it. We are not going to solve the world’s racism here. yet we may just come to a different view ourselves. An epiphany if you will. Semper [Edited
by Don W]
OK. My life in less than 10,000 bytes. First, I take the position that any white person born before 1954 is prejudiced. Race prejudiced. North and
south. Southern whites know they are prejudiced and try to avoid facing its consequences. Northern whites think they are not prejudiced. As the
Federal judiciary came to delineate the two, the south was “de jure” - by law - and the north was “de facto” - by practice. Each form required
different remedies that gave the south busing of public school students.
In 1948, President Truman issued an Executive Order de-segregating the Armed Forces. In 1952, I enlisted in the Air Force. I was surprised to notice
in personnel orders or lists, that each of the black guys in my basic training unit had the following behind his name, “(N).” Less surprising to
me, from Kentucky, was that only 4 blacks were in the group of 72 (Flight 2004 at Sampson AFB, NY). The AF recruiter in Louiseville mentioned that as
a plus why I should enlist in the AF. There is some satisfaction in reporting that the Air Force treated all recruits equally badly. In 1952, most
blacks were in the Army, a lesser number in the MC and almost none in the Navy. A token number in the AF. In the AF, almost all blacks were assigned
to Food Service or Transportation. In the Navy blacks competed with Filipinos for the post of Steward on Navy ships.
“Steward” is a Navy word for servant. Commissioned Officers of the Armed Forces of the United States - AFUS - do not perform menial chores.
Officers don’t make their beds, polish their shoes, wash or iron their clothes or clean the shower or toilet. In any branch. In the ZI - Zone of
Interior - the continental United States - civilian contract workers perform those tasks. On Navy ships, Stewards perform this task.
In 1954, the most important case in American judicial history was handed down. Perhaps a slight overstatement, as Marbury v. Madison is ranked as #1.
The #2 case was the Brown, et. al., vs. Topeka (KS) Board of Education. Brown v. Topeka or Brown v. Board, in shorthand. The decision was unanimous.
9 to zip. Which in itself staggers the mind! I attribute that to Earl Warren more than to any other member of the Court.
The North won the Civil War, but the South won the peace. Terrorism. The white South practiced widespread long time terrorism on the newly freed
blacks. By 1896, the infamous case, Plessey v. Ferguson, second in evil outcome only to the 1856 Dred Scott case which is given major credit for
bringing on the Civil War in 1861, had put the Court’s imprimatur on the doctrine that “separate but equal” was constitutional. Brown overruled
Plessey. And thereby ended America's second shameful era known as Jim Crow.
I was 20 years old. A high school grad. In my 2nd year in the AF. I had been promoted to E4. So I wasn’t dumb or illiterate. But I opposed the Brown
v. Topeka case. One of the weaker arguments offered against the decision was, the Court had decided the case on issues neither the plaintiff nor
defendant had raised. It was an article of faith for judicial conservatives that courts could only decide issues brought before them. That is still an
article of faith by those who oppose “active” judiciaries. If that principle was the case, it would stifle a vibrant society beyond its capacity
In my city of Louisville, the ratio of blacks to whites is 30 to 70. The dual school system had to be integrated. Because “separate but equal” had
never be honestly applied, the black schools were all closed. The single black high school was located in a building constructed prior to 1860 and
which served as a Federal hospital during that war. Almost all white schools had been built in the Depression by the PWA or WPA and where relatively
new. There were 4 white high schools.
Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1965, blacks traveling south of the Mason Dixon Line were compelled to use separate restrooms and drinking
fountains, marked “Colored.” Some gas stations did not have colored restrooms and so, blacks were not permitted to use any. Texaco, the Man with
the Star, was the first national chain to open its restrooms to all people without regard of color. Many whites boycotted Texaco.
Restaurants would not admit blacks to eat. A few had windows cut in the side where blacks could buy food (at the same price as whites) but they had to
stand outside in the weather to eat. Blacks often carried brown bag lunches to be eaten in the car
Can you imagine yourself as a parent taking you 4-6 year old children south to visit their grand parents, and needing to go to the bathroom and you,
the parent, having to explain that they cannot go because they are black? How’s that make you feel? Blacks often carried what was called a “slop
jar” for relieving themselves.
So I was a part of that system. I see now how cruel, how crushing, how depressing life for blacks was under Jim Crow. How many minds did we waste? And
yet, you hear not a word of hate or harshly spoken bitterness from any black my age. An example how the oppressor often suffers more than the
oppressed. The oppressed consciences are clear, mine is burdened.
I warn those who indulge in or approve of torture that the victim is free when the torture is stopped, or he dies, but the perpetrator must live with
himself for the remainder of his life. It is no dishonor to be tortured by your captor; it is the captor who is dishonored. The victim may be injured
but the perpetrator is dehumanized. Racism in practice and torture are moral equivalents. Equally despicable. And I surely include those who allow it
if they did not specifically authorize it. That’s a distinction without a difference.
This confirms my observation that every important issue in America either begins with race or it ends with race. I’m still prejudiced. I know that.
But I try to overcome it every day.
E N D
Off topic aside. Assuming everyone agrees the Jim Crow system existing under the court case, Plessey v. Ferguson, was immoral, illegal and
unconstitutional not to say inhuman, look at the following argument. The Executive Branch cannot write laws. Executive Orders apply only within the
Executive branch. The Congress of the United States was dominated by Southern Democrats. 2 reasons. 1) The seniority system. 2) The Senate’s
unlimited debate, the filibuster. This leaves only the third branch of our Government, the Judiciary, to right a wrong. In this case a huge wrong of
long duration. The Warren Court did the right thing at the right time. An activist court saved America from a bloodbath. Don't knock'em.
[edit on 4/11/2007 by donwhite]