Saturday, July 07, 2007

The racial history of the US over at Orcinus

Sara Robinson has started a great series over at Orcinus called Truth & Reconciliation.

Truth & Reconciliation, Part I: Reconciling the Wounds of Lynching

The first thing whites need to know about the legacy of lynching, Ifill told us, is that Americans -- both black and white -- are still carrying deep scars, which are clinging to us through the generations. Working for many years on voting rights cases throughout the South, she noticed that people in the towns she visited had never really let go of these events. "Everywhere I worked, I heard from my clients about lynchings. Invariably, they'd tell me about some horrific act of racial terrorism that had happened in the past." The practice of lynching ended decades ago; but even today, Ifill found that the memories are still as fresh as if they'd happened yesterday.

The next thing Ifill noticed is that whites and blacks in a community talk about lynching differently -- and have very different memories of what happened in their towns so long ago. "When I spoke with my [African-American] clients, I deliberately used the word "memories" -- even though my clients often weren't even alive when these lynchings happened. Still, I discovered that they 'remembered' details of the lynchings in great detail. They'd heard the stories directly from their parents as tales of how to survive life in the towns they lived in." Ifill was struck that "memories" were invariably extremely vivid, recalled with such specificity -- where the bodies were found, how the corpses looked -- that even people born years after the event thought they'd been there themselves, even though they knew it wasn't possible.

White people in the same towns, on the other hand, usually had very vague memories, even if they or their parents had been witnesses to the lynching. " The difference was striking between the two communities," she marveled. Nobody knew anybody involved. Usually, the lynch mob comprised "people from the next county" or "over the state line" -- people not from around here. (The people from the next county would usually point the finger right back.) Even when photos were available -- and, as Dave has noted, photos were very often available -- nobody recognized anybody. "They closed ranks, and never opened them," explained Ifill. "The lynching was not really about their community, so there was nothing to talk about."



Truth & Reconciliation, Part II: James Loewen on Sundown Towns


If you think the town you grew up in didn't have a race problem because either a) it wasn't in the South, or b) it was all white, Loewen -- the author of "Sundown Towns" and an active Unitarian himself -- has news for you.

"When I started researching this subject, I expected to find three types of sundown towns," Loewen recalled. "I expected to find small towns that were all-white because they'd expelled their black populations; suburbs that were all-white because they excluded blacks (and usually Asians and Jews, as well) from the very beginning; and then a third class of places that were all-white simply because African-Americans never got around to coming there.

"And what I discovered was that this third class is virtually non-existent. If you're an American who grew up in an all-white neighborhood, you need to realize that it was, almost certainly, all-white by intentional design."

There was a time when there were very few cities in America that didn't have a significant black population. "Between 1863 and 1890, they did live everywhere," Loewen asserts. Freed slaves spread far and wide throughout America, seeking to put down roots in places Jim Crow couldn't reach them. But reach them it did: within just a couple of generations, these towns began systematically harassing their black populations in a wide variety of ways designed to get them to move elsewhere.


Both of these posts are quite interesting, and tells a lot of stuff I didn't know before. I'm unsure if there will be any more posts in the series, but make sure to check out the rest of the blog as well. Both Sara Robinson and David Neiwert are some of the best bloggers out there, and Orcinus is absolutely a must-read blog.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

I have no patience with racist crap. Hence the deleted comment, if any of you noticed it.

Normally I would have left the name in place, but I didn't want to leave the commenter's link to his blog.

July 08, 2007 12:49 AM  
Anonymous Scimitar said...

I see. It is a horrible tragedy that 3,400 blacks were lynched over an eighty year period. Sara Robinson is one of "the best bloggers out there" for her discussion of this. Orcinus is "absolutely a must-read blog." To point out that 35,000+ white females were raped by black men in a single year, not a hundred years ago, but two years ago, is "racist crap" which must be deleted from your blog.

Who is really the racist here? Who is really the bigot - cowering in fear of having their preconceptions challenged? Look in the mirror. In your view, as in Robinson's, some crimes are more newsworthy than others, and you discriminate between them for purely racial reasons. If that isn't race prejudice, what is? How can you be in favor of "Truth and Reconciliation" if you are unwilling to discuss the truth about interracial crime? For the record, you are the one who raised the subject.

BTW, I was wondering: as a Dane, why is this any of your business anyway? Unlike you, I am actually an American Southerner, as my IP address proves, and actually know a thing or two about the matter. You people have always had a nasty habit of sticking your noses in matters that don't concern you. I'm referring, of course, to your fellow Scandinavian Gunnar Myrdal.

I suspect you will delete this comment. If you do so, it will confirm some of the more unsavory stereotypes we Americans have about Scandinavians, namely, that you are feminized cowards, addled with political correctness, who have an inate tendency to shy away from controversy. Either way, this response will be reposted elsewhere.

July 08, 2007 5:18 AM  
Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

It was a tragedy that there was an institutionalized racism going on, which included lynching.

The difference between the kind of things described in the posts at Orcinus and the stuff you're talking about is that the stuff described in the posts were done by with the approval of (and often with the help of) the authorities.

You post didn't get deleted because I couldn't face the truth or something. It got deleted because it was racist and insulting - even more so than your last comment. Not only that, it was completely off-topic. I didn't write anything about the crimes committed by black people today - I wrote about the crimes committed against black people in the past.
It's probably a big surprise, but the world is not just about what you think and what you want to hear.

Having said all that, I am going to ask you to provide me with a verifiable official source for the number of rapes. Until you can provide a such, you are not welcome here at this blog, and any post by you will deleted without notice.

This doesn't mean that you can post whatever you want on my blog, as long as you have provided a source for your claims. This is a personal blog, and I see absolutely no reason to provide a place for racists to spew their racist garbage. So, keep your posts factual, on topic, and don't link to racist sites, if you want to comment here.

July 08, 2007 11:13 AM  
Anonymous VanSpeyk said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 08, 2007 4:01 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 08, 2007 4:33 PM  
Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

Apparently I didn't make myself clear before. This is not a forum for white people to comment about being oppressed. Any comment about that will be deleted at sight.

The topic of this post was some specific behaviors in the past, not a different set of behavior today. Either stay on-topic, or go somewhere else.

And I mean it when I say that links to racist sites will result in comments get deleted - that also includes links entered as the website of the commenter.

Go to FreeRepublic if you want to spew your vile hate.

July 08, 2007 4:43 PM  
Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

One comment to the deleted posts (yes, I know it's a bit unfair, but I am not in the mood to be fair today).

VanSpeyk, your friend Scimitar said "raped", not "raped or sexually assaulted", so you didn't provide any evidence for his claims that 35,000+ white women were raped by black men two years ago.

As a matter of fact, if you look closely at the numbers, you'll see that 69,370 cases of rape in 2005, which hardly fits the claims of 35,000+ Black rapists, given the 33.6% Black perpetrators.

So, the ban on Scimitar still stands.

July 08, 2007 5:00 PM  

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