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An Examination of Racism in the Deep South of America From the1930’s to the 1960’s through a variety of texts. “Race: a group of persons having a common ancestor… family, kindred people, genus, species, breed, variety, or class of persons… ” That is what the dictionary says, so why so much hatred, politics and fuss?? The Anglo – American slave trade, started in the 16th century when the first Hispanic people settled in Mexico and the Caribbean. From there, the other Europeans who migrated took black Africans to work on their cotton and tobacco plantations.
This started the very wealthy “Slave Triangle” in which many Captains sought profit. The ships would sail empty from England, Spain, France or Portugal to the African countries to catch slaves. After filling their holds with human cargo they would set sail for the Caribbean. Once there, the Captains sold the slaves to the dealers in return for cotton or tobacco, which they would sell for a large profit back at home. These slaves were then the full property of their masters and he or she could do anything they liked to them and treat them in anyway they wanted to.
One example of this is an advertisement in the ‘Royal Gazette (Kingston Jamaica)’ saying; “Runaway, about 15 months ago a Negro man of the Mungola country named Jamaica… also about two months ago, two Negro men named James and Sambo… a reward of i?? 10 for Jamaica and a Half Joe each for James and Sambo… Also stolen or strayed… a Bright Bay Northward HORSE… also a small JACK ASS… a reward of a pistole will be given for each… ” This shows that their masters treated the slaves with about as much respect and sense of belonging as a horse or donkey. Such disregard upset many Americans and so some spoke out against it.
In 1861, because they would not agree to abolish slavery, the Southern States left the Union of American States. This created even more outcry until Abraham Lincoln , the then President of America declared war on the Southern States. The American Civil War was fought between 1861 and 1865. It destroyed most of the agricultural land in the South and drained it of its wealth. After the Civil War the United States of America was formed. During the next 5 – 10 years the Northerners set in place a number of laws giving back human and civil rights to the black people.
Initially this idea worked, but due to the hostility of the Southern confederacy these changes eventually failed. The “Yankees” that is the Northern Army and Governors called the changes they made “reconstruction”, but after they left, using a number of loopholes in the Law, the Southern Governors set in place many new rules. These were called the Jim Crow Laws and they “segregated” the black former slaves from the white people completely, thereby undoing all the good work done by the Northerners. The following time of white supremacy was called “redemption”
This time of “redemption” and “segregation” was a hard time for the blacks; 1) Their voting rights were taken away 2) The money for black schools was diverted to white education. 3) There were separate buses for coloured and white people, or no bus at all. An example of this is given in the Novel Roll of Thunder where the Logan children have to dive into a ditch up to their chests, or in the case of ‘Little Man’- swim, to avoid the oncoming Jefferson Davies school bus and its ruthless driver. It was around this time when the Depression hit America.
The South was hit especially hard and the price of cotton fell dramatically. This downturn in the economy created serious hardship for the majority of people, both black and white. The arrival of new technology added to the hardship as cotton looms and ploughs cut work loads, making one person and one tractor able to do the work of eight men and eight mules. Publicity of the suffering of the South created Aid and money from Northern Citizens, but due to the amount of corruption the blacks did not benefit from this.
Some workers, both black and white, joined together to fight for more money and better working conditions, and as a result the rich landowners and vigilantly race hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan used violence to break up their protests and demonstrations. Racism comes in three forms – Verbal, Physical and Institutional Verbal Why did the white people feel that they could say something offensive and why did they even say it in the first place? In the Novel Roll of Thunder, Little Man receives a book from his teacher for the new term.
He eagerly thumbs through it but to his horror finds a form that reads: Date Condition Owner Sept 1922 Good White Sept 1928 Good White Sept 1930 Average White Sept 1933 Very Poor Nigra The term ‘nigra’ is very offensive and as a result the naive boy protests and gives the book back. His teacher, Mrs Crocker simply replies “Well, that’s what you are! “. This shows that even teachers can happily pass off insulting words just because a coloured child had owned a book. A further insult was that the book was damaged, which was untrue.
Another form of verbal abuse is when in the same book, a mob attempts to lynch TJ, and they decide to try and hang Pa Logan and Mr. Morrison, the ‘human giant’ “I say, what we oughtta do is take him down the road an take care of that big black giant of a nigger at the same time! And why not that boy he working for too? ” The “boy” they are referring to Pa Logan, a fully-grown, independent man. This is from the time of slavery, where the masters could speak to their slaves as they wished.