19 March 2010

It Takes a Village to Raise a Racist, It Takes a Train to Cry

It Takes a Village to Raise a Racist, It Takes a Train to Cry


Justice Putnam

"Overall, there's not a lot of evidence that, at least in the long term, kids get their prejudice from their parents," said Charles Stangor, who runs the Laboratory for the Study of Social Stereotyping and Prejudice at the University of Maryland. "I would call it more of a community effect than a parental effect. The community fosters tolerance or prejudice."

-- SPLC Intelligence Report
Sonia Scherr

She has that razor sadness
That only gets worse
With the clang and thunder of the
Southern Pacific going by
As the clock ticks out like a dripping faucet
Till you're full of rag water and bitters and blue ruin
And you spill out
Over the side to anyone who'll listen
And I've seen it
All through the yellow windows
Of the evening train.

-- Tom Waits
9th & Hennepin

Eenie meenie miney moe
Catch a nigger by the toe

-- Child's Nursery Rhyme

A Jap's a Jap. It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen or not. I don't want any of them. Racial affiliations are not severed by migration. The Japanese race is an enemy race and while many second - and third-generation Japanese born on United States soil, possessed of United States citizenship, have become 'Americanized,' the racial strains are undiluted.

Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt

Many factors kept Chicanos in a marginal status. The geographical isolation of employment sites, particularly in railroading, agriculture, and agriculturally related industry, often reduced opportunities for Chicanos to gain familiarity with U.S. society through personal contact. Chicanos also encountered various forms of segregation. These included maintenance of separate Anglo and Mexican public schools, restrictive covenants on residential property, segregated restaurants, separate "white" and "colored" sections in theaters, and special "colored" days in segregated swimming pools.

-- Jose Pitti, Ph.D., Professor of History and Ethnic Studies California State University, Sacramento
Antonia Castaneda, Ph.D. Stanford University
Carlos Cortes, Professor of History University of California, Riverside
A History of Mexican Americans in California

I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.

-- George Wallace

A witness identified Robert Chambliss, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, as the man who placed the bomb under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. He was arrested and charged with murder and possessing a box of 122 sticks of dynamite without a permit. On 8th October, 1963, Chambliss was found not guilty of murder and received a hundred-dollar fine and a six-month jail sentence for having the dynamite.

-- About the 1963 Birmingham Bombing

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

-- Billie Holiday and Abel Meeropol (1937)
Strange Fruit

- I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.

-- Malcolm X
The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Petitioners demanded of an employer that it hire Negroes at one of its grocery stores, as white clerks quit or were transferred, until the proportion of Negro clerks to white clerks approximated the proportion of Negro to white customers, which was then about 50%. A California state court enjoined petitioners from picketing the employer's stores to enforce this specific demand for selective hiring on a racial basis. For violation of the injunction, petitioners were found guilty of contempt and were sentenced to fine and imprisonment. The policy of California is against discrimination on the basis of color.

Held: the injunction did not violate petitioners' right of freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 339 U. S. 461-469.

1. The Constitution does not demand that the element of communication in picketing prevail over the mischief furthered by its use to compel employment on the basis of racial discrimination contrary to the State's policy. Pp. 339 U. S. 463-464.

2. Industrial picketing is something more than free speech, since it involves patrol of a particular locality and since the very presence of a picket line may induce action of one kind or another, quite irrespective of the nature of the ideas which are being disseminated. Pp. 339 U. S. 464-465.

3. The Due Process Clause cannot be construed as precluding California from securing respect for its policy against involuntary employment on racial lines by prohibiting systematic picketing that would subvert such policy. Pp. 339 U. S. 465-466.

4. The fact that the policy of the State is expressed by its courts, rather than by its legislature, is immaterial so far as the Fourteenth Amendment is concerned. Pp. 339 U. S. 466-469.

5. A State may direct its law against what it deems the evil as it actually exists without covering the whole field of possible abuses, and it may do so though the forbidden act does not differ in kind from those that are allowed. P. 339 U. S. 468.

-- U.S. Supreme Court
Hughes v. Superior Court, 339 U.S. 460 (1950)
Hughes v. Superior Court of California
for Contra Costa County

"I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail"

I used to be a discipline problem, which caused me embarrassment until I realized that being a discipline problem in a racist society is sometimes an honor.

Ishmael Reed

We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.

-- Cesar Chavez

It is only the infinite mercy and love of God that has prevented us from tearing ourselves to pieces and destroying His entire creation long ago. People seem to think that it is in some way a proof that no merciful God exists, if we have so many wars. On the contrary, consider how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the free wills of men, the human race can still recover, each time, and can still produce man and women who overcome evil with good, hatred with love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanctity. How could all this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace upon us? Can there be any doubt where wars come from and where peace comes from, when the children of this world, excluding God from their peace conferences, only manage to bring about greater and greater wars the more they talk about peace?"

— Thomas Merton
The Seven Storey Mountain

No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

-- Nelson Mandela
Long Walk To Freedom

Which reminds me of another knock-on-wood
memory. I was cycling with a male friend,
through a small midwestern town. We came to a 4-way
stop and stopped, chatting. As we started again,
a rusty old pick-up truck, ignoring the stop sign,
hurricaned past scant inches from our front wheels.
My partner called, "Hey, that was a 4-way stop!"
The truck driver, stringy blond hair a long fringe
under his brand-name beer cap, looked back and yelled,
               "You fucking niggers!"
And sped off.
My friend and I looked at each other and shook our heads.
We remounted our bikes and headed out of town.
We were pedaling through a clear blue afternoon
between two fields of almost-ripened wheat
bordered by cornflowers and Queen Anne's lace
when we heard an unmuffled motor, a honk-honking.
We stopped, closed ranks, made fists.
It was the same truck. It pulled over.
A tall, very much in shape young white guy slid out:
greasy jeans, homemade finger tattoos, probably
a Marine Corps boot-camp footlockerful
of martial arts techniques.

"What did you say back there!" he shouted.
My friend said, "I said it was a 4-way stop.
You went through it."
"And what did I say?" the white guy asked.
"You said: 'You fucking niggers.'"
The afternoon froze.

"Well," said the white guy,
shoving his hands into his pockets
and pushing dirt around with the pointed toe of his boot,
"I just want to say I'm sorry."
He climbed back into his truck
and drove away.

-- Marilyn Nelson
Minor Miracle

If it's gonna rain
And I wish that it would
Just go ahead and rain
Get it over for good
If there's really a hole in that big blue sky
Then move it on over and let me by

Constantinople is a mighty long word
Got three more letters than mockingbird
You put me on a morning train

You put me on a morning train
Ain't no need to explain
You put me on a morning train

-- John Prine
Morning Train

© 2010 by Justice Putnam
and Mechanisches-Strophe Verlagswesen

(Man, Girl and Broken Window, Klamath Falls Oregon; Pacific Stock Exchange, San Francisco California; Sunlight and Water Pitcher; Farm Road and Running Fence, Olema California; Rail Road Crossing, Sonoma California © by Justice Putnam)

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