Jim Crow Says No
Let’s go back to 1840s Issaquena Mississippi. You are one of Dr. Stephen Duncan’s hundreds of slaves. You’re a field slave and you watch as Toby, the right hand slave, snitches and whips other slaves, gets to go hunting, travel into the city, and do everything with the slave master as if he was a white man himself. You hated him. He was a “coon”. Fast forward 50 years; you are now a freed slave, yet you still can not legally even go into the local "Whites Only" restaurant, and the ones that you can--you fear being physically assaulted just for trying to get dinner or you worry about your food being spit in.
The Idea and stereotype that “blacks don’t do” just may have come from the treatment of blacks from our early history in the US.
I can not even tell you how many times I have heard the statement, “stereotypes are based on some sort of truth.” As much as I’d hate to say it, I somewhat agree with this statement. Stereotypes sometimes come from some bit of information gathered on a particular group of people. The thing about stereotypes is, that oftentimes there can be some historical events that do give these stereotypes the room for growth.
Back during the Jim Crow era of the US, Black people were only allowed to live in certain neighborhoods, to eat at certain restaurants, and could only drink from certain water fountains. Often times Black people in America didn’t even feel safe in their own neighborhood; so there was no way you would find them in the woods unless they were hanging from a tree. I'm obviously not saying this is true for the times now, but this was the reality for Blacks in America then. So how can the mental state of a Black person in the US go from, “the woods are not safe” to, “that is where I find my happiness” or even, “Black people do, do that!”
I can understand how anything that White people were allowed to do via “White privilege” then (early US) can be seen as White now. It is simple. Not so long ago Black people were not allowed to participate in certain activities, or if they were, it probably was not a safe place.
The Black people that were allowed some of these freedoms that white people were allotted were oftentimes seen as “coons”, “uncle tom's”, or “sellouts”... basically meaning you had abandoned your fellow brethren just like the right hand slave back in the 1840’s.
When I started writing the first blog, “Black People Don’t Do that” it had occurred to me that my parents were not all that far removed from the time black people were not so much allowed to leave the cities they knew. So it does not at all surprised me that they would make statements like, “boy be safe in those woods” when statements like “boy you don't belong here” were made to them.
It is obvious that we have a long way to go. I know this is not something that I, or anyone can change overnight, but I do know that with encouraging the change in dialogue, that over time things will change. It is only my hope that I can open the mind of one or two people so that they may do the same.
Thank you to everyone who read through this blog. I realize that race can be a sensitive topic, but let us touch the topic together. Let’s Change the Dialog.