*The lateness of this post is not the author’s fault. I’m exceptionally derpy and couldn’t finish reading it in any sane amount of time. But here it is, and sorry to be so late Amanda. On the bad side, she’s going back to reading masochism with the next book, at least from what she told me — SAH*
BRAWL – Internal Cultural Differences and Historical Realities – Amanda S. Green
If you were to ask most anyone how African-Americans first came to the United States, you’d be told they came as slaves. Thanks to our schools and public misconception, we are not taught about those who came as indentured servants. Of course, we aren’t taught about the whites who came over in similar circumstances. To be honest, it is something I learned the hard way when I was in school too many years ago to count. I made the mistake of asking about indentured servants in a history class and being told such things hadn’t existed here in the States, at least not for whites. Funny, I have the original handwritten advertisement that had to be published notifying the people of New Jersey that my own ancestors had fulfilled the terms of their indenture and were now free persons.
That is a part of our history, be you speaking about black or white history, we have chosen to forget. Unfortunately, that has led to more than a little “confusion” about our nation and problems we still encounter today.
The first misconception that needs to be shattered is that blacks first came to America as slaves. That’s wrong. The first Africans brought to Colonial Virginia in 1619 came as indentured servants, a status shared by a number of whites. (BRAWL, pg. 41) This status of being “indentured” meant they could work off their indenture or buy it out. Once they had, they became free persons. The first law recognizing perpetual slavery was passed in 1661 in Virginia. (Note, this is part of the “red neck” sector of what would become the United States. More on that later.)
Once you accept this, you have to accept that slavery isn’t a uniquely “American” event. It originated under British rule more than 100 years before the colonies gained their independence. It also raises the question of why those clamoring for the removal of Civil War memorials (be they statues, street or building names or other forms of public recognition) honoring members of the CSA aren’t doing the same for not only our Founding Fathers (which some of them are) but also those British ancestors, both here and in England, who not only allowed slavery to be established here but promoted it. But that wouldn’t fit the narrative, would it?
In fact, the “size of the free black population increased after the United States came into existence as an independent nation, as the ideology of freedom associated with the American revolution led most Northern states to abolish slavery, and even in the South, enough white slave owners freed their slaves to cause the free black population there to nearly double and then redouble between 1790 and 1810.” (BRAWL, pg 41) Wait! What? That doesn’t fit the narrative.
As a result of this, there was an influx of freed blacks moving north. Even so, it is no surprise that, in 1860, there were more free people of color living in Washington D. C. than in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia combined. After all, who would want to remain in the area where you had been enslaved. However, this mass immigration caused problems, problems that we would see repeated a century later.
Many of the issues caused by this mass migration to the North came about because of the differences between the “free people of color” native to the North and those moving there. The northern “free people of color” were more literate and more urbanized than their Southern counterparts. In 1850, most free people of color in the North were literate while most slaves were not. It would take 50 years for most people of color to become literate or, to put it into context, two generations. Urbanization didn’t really occur until 1940. As Sowell notes, the “size of the free black population increased after the United States came into existence as an independent nation, as the ideology of freedom associated with the American revolution led most Northern states to abolish slavery, and even in the South, enough white slave owners freed their slaves to cause the free black population there to nearly double and then redouble between 1790 and 1810.” (BRAWL, pg. 41)
Among the consequences of the extreme range of education and acculturation within the Negro community has been the larger society’s erection of racial barriers provoked by black rednecks, which barriers then deeply offended those individuals at the other end of the cultural spectrum . . .That internal social barriers within the black community became more pronounced at the same time as white barriers against blacks in general suggests that more than coincidence was involved, since both occurred in the wake of the mass arrival of black rednecks from the South. (BRAWL, pg. 44 -45)
These barriers prevented the “cultural elites from separating themselves as much as they would like from the lower class blacks”. It forced them to live close to those they wanted to be set apart from. It forced them to share schools, churches and other institutions essential to their way of life. This led to a hypocrisy Sowell notes – one where these elites protested against the social and economic barriers raised by the whites while, in turn, wanting to erect those same barriers between themselves and the lower class blacks.
Another thing Sowell points out is that it took more than a light complexion or money to become an elite in this society. There was a behavioral aspect as well. One illustration of this behavior is the more stable family life the black elites enjoyed. Stable families with few separations or divorces marked this black elite society, unlike its counterpart.
So what changed? What curbed the social freedoms the “free people of color” enjoyed in the North prior to the Civil War?
The growth of this largely unacculturated population—“fugitives in the rough,” in the words of black historian Carter G. Woodson—in Northern cities during the first half of the nineteenth century brought both social barriers and discriminatory laws barring black children from schools and black adults from equal access to public accommodations.
Yet, as these black communities grew more acculturated over time, and began to rise economically, these laws and practices began to be relaxed in many Northern cities in the latter part of the nineteenth century. (BRAWL, pp 45-46)
“As these black communities grew more acculturated” is the key phrase. These immigrants from the South adapted to their surroundings. They adopted behaviors accepted not only by the free persons of color from that area but of the white citizenry as well. That adaptation, or acculturation, led to many of the restrictions to be eased.
This ability to become acculturated was severely tested in the 20th Century. For example, there were approximately 30,000 blacks living in Chicago in 1900. By 1920, that number grew to 100,000. By 1940, there were 277,000 living there. In 1900 Detroit, there were approximately 4,000 blacks. That number grew to 149,000 by 1940. New York City’s black population came in at approximately 60,000 in 1900 and exploded to 450,000 in 1940. (BRAWL pg. 47)
Anyone who studied history could see what would happen. The exodus of blacks from the South to the North in the early 1800s led to restrictions on their way of life – where they could live, work, worship, shop, learn, etc. That is exactly what happened again.
The sheer numbers of these new black migrants from the South not only overwhelmed the relatively small black populations in Northern cities demographically in the early twentieth century, their very different behavior patterns shocked both blacks and whites at the time, as witnessed by adverse comments from earlier black settlers and the black press, denouncing the new arrivals from the South as vulgar, rowdy, unwashed, and criminal. Nor were these conclusions without foundation. For example, a study in early twentieth century Pennsylvania found that the rate of violent crimes by blacks who had migrated there was nearly five times the rate of such crimes by blacks born in Pennsylvania. In Washington, the rate of births out of wedlock more than doubled with a large influx of Southern blacks during the late nineteenth century. (BRAWL, pg 47)
It is difficult, if not impossible, to become “acculturated” to a new community when you outnumber it. That was the situation the Northern enclaves faced and, as society had done 100 years earlier, it reacted negatively and laws, written and unwritten, were passed to try to control this new, red-necked majority suddenly taking up residence.
But, with the passage of time, things began to change back to the better, just as they had 100 years earlier. Sowell contends this improvement has its foundation in more than just the passage of time.
“Nor can these advances be attributed to the civil rights laws that began in the 1960s, for the advancement of blacks antedated any serious civil rights legislation by years and was in fact more dramatic in the years preceding such legislation.” (BRAWL, pg 50) In fact, the number of black families living below the official poverty level fell from 87% in 1940 to 47% in 1960. That precedes the Civil Rights era. According to Sowell, the “principal factor that raised black incomes during that period, both absolutely and relative to white income, was migration—from low-income areas to higher-income areas.” (BRAWL, pg 50)
So, as Sowell points out, this mass migration North, and later West, put Southern blacks into a much better situation than they had been before moving. They were now in places where their children could go to better schools. Adults could get better jobs. Even if the migration negatively impacted those blacks already living in the North or West, it improved a greater number simply because of the infrastructure of the areas they moved to.
And, with the passing of years, the “black rednecks” slowly integrated into the existing society, “as minority groups tend to do in countries around the world.” (BRAWL, pg 59) As this happened, racial barriers once again began to drop. This happened after World War II and before the 1960’s. Illustrations of this include not only the increase in salaries blacks enjoyed but also things like Jackie Robinson breaking the barriers and joining MLB. Then you have President Truman working toward ending segregation in the military.
Yes, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 dealt a number of blows to racial restrictions, especially in the South.
Economically, however, the upward trends in black income and occupations that had begun decades earlier simply continued, but at no accelerated rate. The rise of blacks into professional and other high-level occupations was in fact greater in the years preceding the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than in the years afterward, and was greater in the 1940s than in the 1950s. Behind such developments was the fact that blacks were closing the gap between themselves and whites in years of schooling during this era. (BRAWL, pp 50-51)
So, despite all the back slapping and self-congratulations we hear from the liberals about how they’ve been champions of African-Americans, the libs haven’t done nearly as much as they’d like us to believe. In fact, by saying their actions are why African-Americans now enjoy a better life is to denigrate the actions taken by that segment of our society on its own behalf. It is to deny history. It is, in fact, to show the libs truly do believe African-Americans are incapable of improving their lot on their own.
What was improving their way of life were the major social transformations within their community. Blacks that had moved from the South to the North or the West (during WWII to find jobs) began integrating into their new communities and taking advantages of the better possibilities their new lives presented.
It would hardly be surprising if it also had an impact on how whites viewed blacks, as had happened in the nineteenth century. The civil rights legislation of the 1960s may well have been an effect of the rise of blacks, rather than the sole or predominant cause of that rise, as it has been represented as being, by those leaders—black and white—with incentives to magnify their own role in racial progress.
The difference between cultural explanations of changing race relations and explanations based on political acts or swings of the pendulum in white public opinion is not just a matter of intellectual preference. There are wholly different implications, not only about the past, but especially about the future. The question is whether the advancement of blacks is helped or hindered by promoting a black “identity” built around a redneck culture whose track record has been largely negative for both blacks and whites. (BRAWL, pg 51)
Think about that. “The civil rights legislation of the 1960s may well have been an effect of the rise of blacks, rather than the sole or predominant cause of that rise, as it has been represented as being, by those leaders—black and white—with incentives to magnify their own role in racial progress.”
That most definitely doesn’t fit the narrative of the Left. Not only does their stance deny not only facts but historical trends, it downplays the abilities and capabilities of a large segment of our society. Isn’t it time to fight the narrative and call them out on their BS? More importantly, isn’t it time for that part of our society to realize just how well they’ve been played by politicians and, as Sowell calls them, “those leaders—black and white—with incentives to magnify their own role in racial progress?”
[For raising the tone of this blog — ATH is culture! — and helping me with the exposing of the roots of the current mess — in her case with more facts! — if you decide to send the woman a drink– And her Amazon author page is here – Also, she has a new book: Light Magic, under her Ellie Ferguson pen name. SAH]