“They didn’t come across as being racist,” my dad said.
They didn’t give themselves the opportunity. Only one black actor—Rockne Tarkington—ever had a speaking role on “The Andy Griffith Show.” The story went like this: Opie was starting piano lessons. Aunt Bee was into it, but Andy wasn’t too keen. Opie then met the cool new football coach who was a black ex-NFL player. Opie suddenly found himself conflicted! Football or piano? My dad remembered this storyline clearly. (“I didn’t miss too many episodes, Shani-o.”)
Our conversation slipped into reminiscences of all the all-white shows we have known, and whether we are better off with showrunners pretending that people of color didn’t exist. “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke”—other much-loved staples of that era in our household—would occasionally take a crack at edgier storylines involving race or gender. At best they were ham-fisted; at worst, downright racist.
All-white can sometimes be all right: “The Andy Griffith Show” didn’t have a chance to be particularly racist because it didn’t try for anything beyond sweet simplicity.
These are 50-year-old (or 100-year-old? 1,000-year old?) trade-offs. I must consider the whiteness of “Girls” and “Bunheads” and why Barney almost never sleeps with black women on “How I Met Your Mother” and why “Friends” was set in an impossibly white Manhattan and why the only black girl on “Buffy” was killed in season two and why Mercedes on “Glee” has to be so damn sassy and why Shonda Rhimes is the only showrunner regularly casting people of color in roles that aren’t explicitly People of Color. Or I must opt out altogether and hit up the black internet’s impressive collection of web series.
Personally, I never watched the Andy Griffith Show (when it came on Nickelodeon after Nick, Jr. was over I was overcome with boredom due to the black and white and refused to watch). But I still appreciated the mentions of how modern day mainstream television is still very much white.
The Twin Cities have the highest level of racial disparity in unemployment in the country, according to a study released on Monday. The Economic Policy Institute found that African-Americans in the Twin Cities metropolitan area were 3.3 times as likely to be unemployed as whites in 2011—the highest level of disparity among 19 major metropolitan areas in the nation.
Christina Wessel, “Deep racial disparities in unemployment persist in the Twin Cities”
I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people. For example, I am black. I know that. I also know that while I am black I am a human being. Therefore I have the right to go into any public place. White people don’t know that. Every time I tried to go into a public place they stopped me. So some boys had to write a bill to tell that white man, “He’s a human being; don’t stop him.” That bill was for the white man, not for me. I knew I could vote all the time and that it wasn’t a privilege but my right. Every time I tried I was shot, killed or jailed, beaten or economically deprived. So somebody had to write a bill to tell white people, “When a black man comes to vote, don’t bother him.” That bill was for white people.
Stokely Carmichael (via iwasabearonce)
Racism in America: A Guide to Understanding Discrimination
by Louis J. Palmer, Jr.
Racial discrimination, like its ethnic counterpart, will never be totally eliminated. This is necessarily so because discrimination is an inherent attribute of the human brain. This book provides an analysis of the cerebral origin of discrimination, along with its ancient manifestation as ethnic discrimination and its recent historical manifestation as racial discrimination in America. Ultimately this book seeks to demonstrate that, while the evils of racial discrimination are an inherent part of existence, it is a condition that can and should be controlled through laws and individual initiatives.
A Defiant Life: Thurgood Marshall and the Persistence of Racism in America
By Howard Ball
Thurgood Marshall’s extraordinary contribution to civil rights and overcoming racism is more topical than ever, as the national debate on race and the overturning of affirmative action policies make headlines nationwide. Howard Ball, author of eighteen books on the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary, has done copious research for this incisive biography to present an authoritative portrait of Marshall the jurist. Born to a middle-class black family in “Jim Crow” Baltimore at the turn of the century, Marshall’s race informed his worldview from an early age. He was rejected by the University of Maryland Law School because of the color of his skin. He then attended Howard University’s Law School, where his racial consciousness was awakened by the brilliant lawyer and activist Charlie Houston. Marshall suddenly knew what he wanted to be: a civil rights lawyer, one of Houston’s “social engineers.” As the chief attorney for the NAACP, he developed the strategy for the legal challenge to racial discrimination. His soaring achievements and his lasting impact on the nation’s legal system—as the NAACP’s advocate, as a federal appeals court judge, as President Lyndon Johnson’s solicitor general, and finally as the first African American Supreme Court Justice—are symbolized by Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case that ended legal segregation in public schools. Using race as the defining theme, Ball spotlights Marshall’s genius in working within the legal system to further his lifelong commitment to racial equality. With the help of numerous, previously unpublished sources, Ball presents a lucid account of Marshall’s illustrious career and his historic impact on American civil rights.
Face To Face: The Changing State Of Racism Across America
By James Waller
Presents data to challenge the idea that racism is in decline, argues that prejudice is inherent in how the human mind works and in how people respond to each other, and recommends methods of reconciliation.
Freedom’s Sword: The NAACP and the Struggle Against Racism in America, 1909-1969
By Gilbert Jonas
Freedom’s Sword is the first history to detail the remarkable, lasting achievements of the NAACP’s first sixty years. From its pivotal role in overturning the Jim Crow laws in the South to its twenty-year court campaign that culminated with Brown v. the Board of Education, the NAACP has been at the forefront of the struggle against American racism. Gilbert Jonas, a fifty-year veteran of the organization, tracks America’s political and social landscape period by period, as the NAACP grows to 400,000 members and is recognized by both blacks and whites as the leading force for social justice. Jonas recounts the historic combined efforts of ordinary citizens and black leaders such as W.E.B. Dubois, James Weldon Johnson, and Thurgood Marshall to root out white-only political primaries, separate schools, and segregated city buses. Freedom’s Sword is a vivid and passionately written account of the single most influential secular organization in black America.