Racism: then and now

In the Bad Old Days of Jim Crow laws, a person was considered black if that person was known to harbor even a drop of “black blood.”*


That person was immediately sent to the back of the bus, a separate water fountain, and looked down upon. It was very bad to be black.

In the Modern Era of Jim Crow, a person still is considered black if that person harbors even a drop of “black blood.” And it is very good to be black, a real glory. Well, in some circles. Most of us just consider them ordinary folks, some good, some not.

But in other circles, and super influential ones they are, namely the media and academia,** being black is something to be worshiped and idolized.

If you’re part black, you’re all black. Never white, never biracial.


The most famous example of this attitude sits in the White House: Barack Obama, the first biracial American president.

But the modern Jim Crow mindset has declared him black or African-American, the trendy term used primarily by nervous whites.

Jim Crow thinking has done a one-eighty! It has doffed its pointy hood and picked up a pipe and horn-rimmed glasses. What once was very bad is now very good. What once was a curse is now a blessing.

As Art Linkletter famously said: People are funny.

* * * *

* There is no such thing as black blood. It’s always red. And I’m not talking about Liz Warren, the “Cherokee” Senate candidate in Massachusetts.

** Yes, the ham-fisted world of political correctness.

(Note: Those are Obama’s parents, of course. Both are dead, but Dad gets almost all the press because he is the trendy one.)

21 thoughts on “Racism: then and now”

  1. I was raised just outside a small fishing Village (Steveston). It was predominantly Japanese. 80% of the kids I went to elementary school and high school with were Japanese. My first girlfriend was Japanese. I was quite taken with one girl in Grade 12. My mother, who never had a bad word for anyone, one day sat me down after a conversation about my interest in this young lady and said, Sonny, “Robins don’t sleep with the Sparrows.” You have to think of the children. They’d be neither white nor brown, and people would look at them different. Up here in Canada, now, you see mixed-race couples everywhere. I don’t see it as good or bad. I just see people for what they are, some good, some not so much so. Color just doesn’t matter.


    1. Bob: Well, clearly, robins do sleep with sparrows, but your mama’s phrase amuses me.

      Very interesting that your childhood was spent in a mostly Japanese world. Did not know that.

      Color should not matter. But it does. A lot. I do not think that will ever change. I think most everyone prefers being surrounded by similar people, racially, culturally, economically. You name it. We feel most comfortable around folks like us.

      Go to any university student center. You’ll see the blacks sitting together, the Asians sitting together, the whites sitting together, etc. And universities are the world that praises diversity more than anywhere else. Ironic.

      There was a best-selling book some years back. It dealt with how to advance in the workplace. The basic theme was that the more you resembled your boss, up to and including style of dress, the more promotions you would get, the better off you would be. Same theme then.

      I have no scientific evidence to back up this belief, but I am thoroughly convinced that biracial people often are conflicted, not knowing in what “world” they belong.

      I am not a fan of encouraging diversity and multiculturalism, as I have mentioned a number of times before. I think it is a problem, and must be handled in the kindest and fairest way possible. But not encouraged which is the obligatory mindset in America today.

      Other cultures do not encourage it, just the English-speaking world, with some rare exceptions.


      1. Yep, part Japanese, (but I’m all white, Swedish & white mongrel mix) gotta black belt in judo. Speakee some Japanese also, had sushi before it became famous. I think it matters more in the U.S. than Canada, the race issue, but I have difficulty sometimes with the Chinese immigration into Vancouver. I have no problem with diversity or multiculturalism as long as there is an effort to assimilate into the culture of the new country. We have problems here with the native Indians, but I think it is derivative of the idea “we know best,” us white folks. We will look after you, here’s some money, nice pat on the head, now, go away.


  2. I have twin 22 year old daughters who are half-Asian. Their mother, a Chinese/Filipina, died of cancer at the age of 41. Mexico is probably the most diverse, racially mixed nation on earth. Filipinos have much in common with Mexicans. They were both colonized by Spain with a Spanish heritage and culture.


    1. Andres: According to government statistics, Mexico is about 60 percent Mestizo, 40 percent pure Indian and 10 percent white. However, telling Mestizos from pure Indians often is a matter of what they tell you they are and what clothes they wear.

      Mexico is racially mixed? You bet. But I would argue with you on the diversity thing. We are overwhelmingly a nation of Spanish-speaking brown people with a small peninsula of whites, who also speak Spanish, hanging off one corner, which is my corner.


  3. How amusing, someone actually voicing the black and white dilemma.

    Myself, I’m white and certainly do feel more comfy being around people like myself … white, Christian, Swedish, Irish, working, retired, artistic, single, and so forth. Gives one something pleasant to talk about and agree with when meeting in person, in a group, or accidentally. When I go to either of those three areas and it’s all black, or Oriental, or native American, I’m speechless; I have absolutely nothing ‘in common’ with them. It has nothing to do with liking their color or not … it’s that I simply have nothing in common to discuss with them. I’d rather not be there. Say what you will; they are different from me.

    About marrying into a different race. Why would any parent want to subject their children to the racist comments they will likely receive throughout life. One has to think of someone besides one’s self and one’s sexual interests and one’s own beliefs. When a black child pops onto the white scene … well, here we go! It’s not fair to the child.. it becomes an object of difference, and the damage done over their lifetime is just plain unfair. All because black A prefers white B and sex happens between people. But heck, when B marries A, neither of them think ahead any further than the bed, never mind the consequences. Lucky the kid who comes out tan with un-curly hair; they can blend in. Unlucky the kid who comes out black with kinky hair in a mostly white surrounding. Tough life.

    I’m lucky to not be dealing with the white-black partnership with my nieces and nephews yet … it may happen. Who knows? If it does, of course I will be accepting. Not my right to live their lives. They’ll find out soon enough when a black baby pops out of a white body. Poor kid. It deserves better. Other color kids stand out; they’re different and kids don’t like to be different. It encourages insult and ridicule. My two cents.


    1. Frankie: Thanks for the feedback. You and I are pretty much on the same page, as they say. One issue specifically jumps out at me, and that is that children do not want to stick out, do not want to be different. It really pains them.


  4. It is interesting that I sent my email to you this morning before I read you latest post. It was in response to your, “Republicans are polite folk” statement that you challenged me to refute.

    That email contained some examples from the “real” press of political racism, the mildest being the obviously commercially made t-shirt,

    Romney, Ryan
    Put The White Back In The White House

    The roadside display featuring a Romney sign and an empty chair with watermelons and a noose beside it.

    Some are less mild and I will not repeat like the obscene hand written sign placed overnight in the yard of a Texas Obama supporter:

    Obama S____ D____, Romney Ryan – Christian, White, Anti Gay – Republicans Rule.

    Looks like Jim Crow is alive and well and is wearing a Romney button.

    To me it is one matter using profanity on your own supporters to shock them off their butts to vote and quite another matter to use profanity and racism against your opponent.. Apples and oranges as you would say.


    1. Croft: As a general rule, you will find considerably more profanity on today’s left than on today’s right. And you will never find a professionally made political video that’s an endless torrent of curses from beginning to end like those I cited by Samuel Jackson and Sarah Silverman in that other post.

      Are there dingbat Republicans? Of course! I would never say otherwise. There are dingbats everywhere.

      (Pause: Large formations of ducks are flying over the house.)

      To the point of this post: The way Bull Conner and David Duke determined if someone was black is the same way people like Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow determine if someone is black. There are no shades of gray in their worlds. Oh, the irony.


  5. Félipe: As you know, Hawai’i is probably the most diverse of all the states. It very well may be that we are the most racially aware as well. But, for the most part, we are not racists. Hawaii is rife with racial jokes but they are all in good fun.

    I worked at the University of Hawaii for 25 years and spent many a lunchtime in the cafeteria. It was not unusual to see kanaks (Hawaiians), buddaheads (Japanese/Asian), katonks (Asians from the mainland), borinkas (Puerto Ricans), buk buks (Filipinos), haoles (most white folks), pochos (portuguese) yobos (Koreans), pakes (Chinese), other Pacific Islanders, and popolos (black folks from Africa and/or part of the Pacific Islands) sitting at the same table. Most of them are not of pure race and are what we call “hapa” for mixed race. For the most part these folks consider themselves “local” — probably because their ancestors were all part of the plantation era. I’ve lived in Hawaii for over 40 years and will never be recognized as “local.” (Not unlike many places on the mainland. Particularly the northern Atlantic coast.)

    By racially aware; it was not unusual for everyone at the table to be able to identify all the races in each others multi-ethnic hapa blends. The ethnic group on the lower end of racial status is the haole. Hawaiians have become more and more aware that their land was ripped off by the Haole plantation owners and their ilk. Racism towards haoles does still exist to a degree. Particularly amongst some of the more militant “Hawaiians.” They don’t, however, wear hoods or robes. More likely board shorts and bare chested.

    Those tables in the cafeteria do seem to segregate by countries, however. The foreign students tend to isolate themselves (i.e. Chinese, Micronesian, Japanese). I think it is more of a language thing than racial prejudice. The freshmen mainland transfers do tend to stick together for the first semester or two but seem fully integrated by the end of their sophomore year.

    It is an unfortunate fact that most human beings have a need to feel superior to other human beings and/or groups of humans. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t. I guess I haven’t met the lowest of them all yet — the poor person who is inferior to everyone. Being a bleeding heart liberal I would volunteer for that position. However, I’ve been working on living without judgement or expectation for the last 30 or so years and have made very little progress. It may be awhile before I can completely discard my ego and self esteem, but put me on the waiting list.


    1. Larry: Interesting about the situation in Hawaii, which seems to be quite atypical. You’d probably have to search long and hard around the globe to find a similar environment. Must be fascinating.

      For a misguided Lefty, you’re a good egg.


      1. Just a little more.

        Obama would not or is not considered african/american in HI. He is hapa popolo. Instead of some ghetto school, he attended the most prestigious private high school in Hawaii.

        Most native Hawaiians, if asked, will tell you they are descended from the alii (royalty). I’ve never met one who claimed to come from common stock. The ali’i were not very kind to commoners. (They were executed if they happened to walk into an ali’i’s shadow.)

        I was reading an article in the local newspaper written by a woman who had attended Punahou school with Obama. She says he claimed to be a Kenyan “chief.” Probably to equalize himself with all that Hawaiian royalty.

        Obama suffered little if any racial prejudice while residing in Hawaii. I doubt that he had any direct knowledge of the African-American* experience or the racism that accompanies that reality.

        Irregardless: the powers decided he was the man they wanted to front for them in the White House — a black man who isn’t really a black man but rather a hapa popolo from Hawaii. I still think their choice was better than your man’s backers. The only prejudice Mitt may have had to overcome was in gym class when his peers saw the funny underwear.

        I too sent in my absentee ballot today. I may or may not have cancelled your presidential vote — depending on whether Norm got his ballot in before me.

        *Why is the term “African-American?” Aren’t they Americans first with a heritage from Africa? I could see it if they were first generation but, after that?


        1. Larry: Thanks for the stuff. It’s interesting. Hawaii, of course, is unlike any other U.S. state by a long mile.

          As for African-American, I heartily dislike all hyphenated-American terms. It’s unpatriotic, disloyal, and is a reflection of the crumbling of the American fabric. You may think that’s an over-reaction, but I do not.

          I doubt there is any other nation in the world (perhaps non-English-speaking nation would be better because it’s the English speakers who so embrace the PC foolishness. Perhaps they do it in Canada, England and Australia, etc. Got no idea.) where its citizens hyphenate themselves when referring to their nationality.


  6. There is no shortage of bigots in America and that fact covers south to the tip of Chile. I took a Spanish class once in Antigua, Guatemala, the young lady had a very low outlook on the local Mayans. The idea that the Republican Party has a political agenda toward blacks is commonly bantered about by poly-sci folks. Most of the agenda is beating white people over the head with their fear of a group of people they seldom come in contact with. A good policy, if one wants to gather the bigot vote (they do count), but one that may come back to haunt the grand old party in time. The old: “if they can do it to them, they can do it to us” fear that the underclass tends to develop. Their votes count as well. And there will be more elections.


    1. Norm: There is no shortage of bigots anywhere, not only in the Americas. Bigot is just a word for the human characteristic that exists in all of us to varying degrees of being suspicious of “different” people. Racist, the term your people so love to use, is another.

      You: …commonly bantered about by poly-sci folks.

      Me: …the media and academia. (From the post)

      I, of course, disagree with your broad-brush view of the Republican party. But I have mentioned before how the more extreme elements of the Democratic party are fond of seeing “evil” in the opposition more often than just a difference of opinion.


  7. The hatred of the Ladinos (light skinned mestizos) in Guatamala is palpable towards the Indios. During the decades long civil war in Guatamala, the Ladinos practiced genocide by slaughtering whole villages of MesoAmericans. I spent six weeks down there a couple of years ago. Unlike Eliz. Warren, you won’t find any Ladinos pretending to be an Indio.


    1. Andres: People have been abusing “different” people since the dawn of time, and it will never end. The only thing we can do is make its uglier forms illegal and try to reduce the negative effects.

      But it ain’t never gonna end.


      1. Sad but true. If we can’t pick on people because of colour then we use social status. Kids are taught young and we call it bullying but it the same thing. A sad commentary.


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