I was reading over at fellow Philly blogger, Eschaton's blog site, and he had some interesting things to say about the difference between Southern and Northern racism. His comments were within the context of the latest dust up over the Harold Ford race baiting advertisement in the Tennessee senate race, and the ones being used against Duval Patrick in the Massachusetts governor's race. He observed, and rightfully so, that republicans in the North have used the black bogeyman as the criminal and predator. (See Willie Horton) But on the other hand, the latest advertisement by the republican wedge machine's Southern strategy, portrays the black man as the sexual predator, preying on every Southern white man's fears. You know, the Mandindgo Buck lurking in the fields, ready, at the drop of a pin, to snatch his precious white women from under his very eyes. So in a nutshell, Northern racism is an innate fear of the black criminal predator, and Southern racism is the fear of black sexuality. [His dick is bigger than mine] There is a reason all those black boys were hung down South for even looking at a white woman.
This is what the republican party is doing in Tennessee; I call it the missy scare factor -I tried to warn you Harold, leave missy alone. Take a page out of your boy Barack's book- And guess what, it's working; the most recent polls show that Bob Corker,his republican opponent, has drawn even and in some polls is actually starting to inch away. No surprise to the field of course. I know how that commercial would play in some bar in rural Tennessee; and with a race so close, this ad will tip the election in favor of the republican. Hey, even 2% of the vote is crucial at this point. Ken Mehlman and his pals are hoping that this advertisement will close the door on Harold Ford, thus sending a republican back to Washington to fill a senate seat they desperately need. And guess what, it just might work. "I think that there is nothing more repugnant in our society than people who try to divide America along racial lines" Yeah right Ken, unless you are doing the dividing right?
So anyway, all this got me thinking, just what are the differences between racism in the North and racism in the South? Well first, let's give the republicans some credit for recognizing this little phenomena. Of course I would expect no less from the party of race baiters and dividers. But to understand this phenomena you have to understand the old adage, that in the North you can get as much power and wealth as you want, but just don't get too close to me ni***r. Whereas in the South, you can get as close as you want to your white neighbor, but we won't let you get too much wealth and power n***r. Now as someone who has a very unique perspective on this, I am going to agree with that saying. I can make this observation, because I went to school and spent considerable time in the South, but now live and work in the North. So Because of my perspective, I must say that there is something to that old adage, if only because I have seen it played out time and time again. Here in Philly for instance, whites guard their neighborhoods against the negro invasion with everything they have. The schools and neighborhoods are as segregated as the old Jim Crow South. And yet, blacks do well in business, and in certain areas of government and commerce. Blacks and whites work side by side in white collar jobs, yet go home to separate racial enclaves when the clock strikes five.
In the South, on the other hand, blacks and whites live as neighbors, and in many cases the schools are integrated. But when it comes to monetary wealth and power in government and business; the Southern white will let you get so much but no more. His power over you is controlled by his money and his access to it. If farmer Johnson wants a loan to make some improvements on his farm, he had better go to Mr. Charlie down at the bank. And once there, he is at his mercy. ~~~I remember you Johnson, your daddy was a good man, he used to work for my daddy; how much do you need?~~~ . And so it goes.
Another observation I have about Southern as opposed to Northern racism, is that the Northern racist is a racist with no remorse or white guilt. In many cases he is from one of the three main Northern ethnic groups; Italian, Irish, or Polish. And in his mind, he didn't own and damn slaves, and his ancestors came to this country and worked just as hard as some of the slaves did. So he makes no apology for slavery and it's legacy. And in his mind, your black ass should go get a job, and stop begging the government for handouts. The government has done more than enough for you, so it's time to get off your black ass and work. All the time not realizing that his white ass benefited from slavery because of the mere color of his skin. Yeah, your ancestors might not have owned slaves, but people who look like them sure did. It never ceases to amaze me for instance, how white folks will lose their minds over this cities pro quarterback. -who happens to be black-They buy their kids his tea shirt, they pay to see him play, and if he were to ever come around in person, they would lose their natural minds. Yet, these same people, will fire bomb a black families house if they ever had the audacity to move on their block.
In the South there is more guilt to the racism, so they are more polite, more gracious, and more patronizing. When people say that racism is more up front in the South they are wrong. That is a myth and an inaccurate stereotype which started in the fifties and sixties and just carried over to this day. If anything, it's more that way in the North, more open and up front. In the South, like everything else, there is a certain politeness and genteel ism to racism, and it drives me crazy. Here up North, we are more angry, because we have to live on top of one another, and force ourselves to co-exist, while all the time protecting our turfs. There is no pretense, because we don't have time for it.
Finally, of course, there is the obvious differences. Southern racism is institutionalized, and takes on a group form. There are still segregated the colleges, segregated organizations, segregated churches, and social clubs. Northern racism is individualized it's the individual that's a racist, and not the institutions of government, or groups. It's the individual who tries to keep you out of his neighborhood and home, it's the individual who makes racist jokes behind your back, and who secretly tenses up every time he is alone with you. This is Northern racism, and of the two, I must confess, that it's the form of racism that I do a better job of dealing with.
The truth of the matter is, racism, regardless of where you experience it is bad. And when it is exploited for political gain it is particularly insidious. It's a sad day indeed when one of our national parties resort to these tactics to hold on to power. But hey, what else do we expect when we live in a country where power trumps everything else? Even common decency and moral courage. It's called America folks, and we better get used to it.
I wonder what the weather is like in Cali these days?