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I'm Not An Angry Person, But...

I realise I have a 'filter' through which I view the world, based on my life and experiences as a black person. It was more difficult than some, much less difficult than others, still I have little patience with people who wish I would forget the history behind being African American, or at least not talk about it.

Someone was raving about Gone With The Wind as an epic love story. I can't get past Scarlett's treatment of Prissy or Mammy, or the fact that she was a slaveowner.  Sorry.  I can't relate to Scarlett, OR Rhett, for that matter. I realise Hattie McDaniel won the first Oscar by a black person for this movie and I'm glad. But I'm also aware she couldn't sit with her white co-stars while waiting to accept it; she sat at a segregated table near the kitchen.

Song of The South; someone was complaining that the movie wasn't available in the U.S. because of "political correctness". Walt Disney was a notorious racist, and this movie  basically showed an old man who had worked all of his life on a plantation and had nothing to show for it but the stories that he told the children of the plantation owners (and the adults treated him like crap). My father took me to see it when I was a child and had to explain about slavery---and why we were seeing the movie in a segregated theater.

Driving Miss Daisy: I'm constantly being told what a wonderful movie this was. I admire Morgan Freeman, and I liked Jessica Tandy. But do I really want to see a film about a 1950's black man in a menial job, in modern times ?

The Founding Fathers: if they owned people who looked like me, I'm not going to consider them heroic. Period. What is not to understand ? I don't care if times were different. They wouldn't have wanted to be slaves themselves, would they ? Fought a war to prevent it in fact.

More and more, I understand it's not that people who complain about black people "STILL" talking about slavery want  to forget about it---they just want us to view the antebellum South with the same nostalgia THEY do, hence the "heritage not hatred" motto on Confederate flags. And that's just not reasonable.
bijouxbroussard bijouxbroussard 56-60, F 14 Responses May 27, 2012

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I agree 10 million times. To me the confederate flag is as disgraceful as the nazi flag.

Ihate these stereotypes with a passion....
untill less than the last 100 years...
so many smart black minds wasted due to
our screwed system....

Honestly they want us to take it in the *** like the Indians, when were quiet like them that's when everybody would be happy

Well, I did read 'Gone With the Wind' (hate the way it ends) quite recently, and yes, it does belong to a time when apartheid was rampant and acceptable. I'm not American, nor have I ever belonged to a marginalized section, so maybe I won't be able to completely feel your pain, but there one thing I've read about contemporary America that I wanted to ask....
I read that nowadays, while teaching 'Tom Sawyer' in class, teachers just skip the word ni*ger (I'm aware that that is an offensive word)... Don't you think thats taking political correctness too far? Shouldn't children be wholeheartedly taught what our past was like, so that they value our present?

I think they're attempting to spare black children (and themselves) feelings of discomfort. I do remember all eyes on me whenever slavery was discussed, or any books having to do with the era were reviewed. But this IS our history, and there's been a tendency to try to sanitise and revise things quite a bit as it is. Both my black and non-black relatives in the South have told me about things that happened during "Jim Crow" (our apartheid) that were pretty horrific, things they witnessed personally, that children were never taught in school. Nobody wants to be descended from the "bad guys", so Southerners today teach their kids that slavery wasn't the reason for the civil war, that only a few people owned slaves anyway, and after all, there was slavery in Africa. All to try to absolve the South, I guess. They don't do anyone any favours by that. I think trying to teach Mark Twain's work in an "unoffensive" manner is part of that, and I agree it's shortsighted.

Have you seen 12 Years A Slave? I thought it did a really good job of humanising the slaveholders without absolving them of anything. In fact, the director has said that the most "sympathetic" plantation owner we meet is the one he considers most evil, and I felt similarly when watching it -- the fact that he's aware of the evil of the system but still engages with it out of personal convenience somehow makes you hate him more than the people who are deluded into thinking they're doing nothing wrong.

I can understand people feeling resentful for the past, but how far back in the past do we want to go? I am a white Christian, and after 911, I made it my business to learn all I could about terrorism and Islam, and I found the true facts about that "religion" to be truly shocking. For example, before the Crusades, for centuries, the Arab Muslims invaded European a took white people as "booty". So my question is this, how come nobody talks about all the "white slavery"? When our educational institutions teaching about "oppression," why does it always seem to start to the founding of our country? Why shouldn't I be angry and hateful for what the Muslims did to "my people?" And it was the Muslims who enslaved and oppressed black Africans for centuries - the Europeans and Americans didn't come in until the tail end of the history of African slavery. How come I never hear about American blacks talk about THAT history at all?

There are two reasons I can address personally: I've never gone to a mosque or a Muslim owned establishment in the U.S. and read any signs saying "Muslims only",(and if you have please enlighten me) but when I was a small child there WERE many Christian churches and public buildings throughout the South (where my parents are from) that indeed were LEGALLY designated "Whites only". I remember well, because I was just learning to read; my parents had to explain it to me. It's part of my personal life experience, not something I read about in a book---it's that recent. The reason it's also an issue specific to the U.S. is because in this country to which everyone else fled to escape oppression from their homelands, a country presumeably founded upon principles of FREEDOM, some blacks were slaves, some even owned by the very "Founding Fathers" supposedly fighting for freedom. NO other country has claimed to be "the land of the free". If you can't see the irony in that, I have no way to explain it to you.

It's not about being "resentful", though. It's about righting wrongs that are holdovers from that past oppression. If you can explain how your life has been made harder by the fact that the Abassids kidnapped your ancestor a thousand years ago, then we can talk about how justified you would be in feeling angry. (Incidentally, the Muslims weren't the first people to invent slavery either. It existed at least as far back as the dawn of agriculture in Mesopotamia, and it's probably as old as the concept of property.)

The Boston Celtics of the NBA was one of the first teams to break the segregation barrier. In the early 60's when the league was still young, they would play in many backwater cities. The blacks would not be allowed in some restaurants or motels, and even though the black pla<x>yers did not want to cause trouble, the white pla<x>yers always rallied around them and refused to eat or stay where everyone wasnt welcome. One of my few idols as a child was Bill Russell who was not only a great pla<x>yer but very outspoken against prejudice. He alway got into trouble with the press, but he stood firm behind his beliefs and would not waiver or give into pressure. he was a great power of example to a young white boy back then.<br />
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In the mid 1980's my mother in law's husband was a dentist with his own business in Homestead, FL. even though my M-I-L was born in Cuba and spent many years living near Boston, both of them were upset when he had to integrate his waiting room. I was in my mid 30's and, being born and raise in MA, was shocked to realize that segregation was still rampant in the south. Interestingly, my M-I-L was a staunch supporter of Barack O'bama during the last presidential elections!<br />
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To forget our heritage leaves the doors wide open for another holocaust. In the case of African Americans, to forget your past, be tantamount becoming black again and all to soon, *******! Remembering our heritage,is the key to being free!

Absolutely. That evening I was very angry and extremely frustrated from having spoken to a poster who pleaded, "can't you people just let this go ?" I couldn't, and wanted to give a few examples of why not. I organised my thoughts as best as I could, and wrote them down here.

You done good, bijoux!

Movies are art. Art sometimes depict life. Life in those days old cinema for African American wasn't easy. Many of the evils of racism existed then as they do now. Halle Berry won a Oscar for Monsters Ball no one look at that role. A woman crying all the time and getting a hard one. So many positive roles and no Oscar. Denzel Washington won for Training days. Shame a corrupt cop. In slavery African Americans eat pig feet and ears. The parts with less meat. So is this the same. <br />
A better movie of the old era for African American would be a Cabin In The Sky. Some of the stereotypes but nothing like Gone With The Wind. Al Jolson played white face during cinema earlier years.

I don't understand how you cannot be angry? Growing up poor I got a very slight taste of bias in America and I can't even imagine your experience.

You think it's tough being black, try being mixed. My father was a black creole from southern Louisiana. My mother was a white hillbilly from the Ozarks of northern Arkansas. I have always been too black for my white relatives and too white for the black. Even growing up in California away from that southern craziness, I never fit in. I attended predominately black schools where I was never accepted as truly black. I found my place amongst the Mexican students because I looked most like they did. To this day I'm considered Samoan or Latino or anything but black or white. You have a cultural heritage and identity. You can point to a spot on the map, an historical event or important men and women and say "These are mine". I can't do that. I can't even discuss the issue of slavery, because when I do I get "Aw man, you would have been in massah's house eating good and wearing nice clothes. You would have been a butler. You'd never pick cotton."

I know a bit about that, too. My parents are both from Louisiana, but met in New York. Dad's family has always identified as black (they have black and black Creole roots, note the username), and my mother is French and Choctaw. If you saw me, you would see a medium light-skinned black woman, and that's how the world treats me. I acknowledge and love my mother, but I identify as a black woman. I have gotten the foolish comments from other blacks, too---but that's for another story. ;)

What gets me are the people who say, "The Civil War wasn't about slavery. It was about states' rights." Of course, the "right" they wished to assert was the "right" to choose the option of owning other human beings, including buying and selling them like cattle....

Exactly right. ;)

You don't have to be black to get mad at those myths of a good benevolent racist society.

Many years ago my wife asked our neighbour to videotape a shirley temple movie for our daughter to watch. Our friends had come from South Africa where they had been formally classed as 'coloured' - something we found abhorrent. She gave my wife the video with a hesitation we noticed but didn't understand. Then when we watched it we saw it for the first time with adult eyes - the extremely patronising portrayal of African Americans - possibly the worst I can remember. It made us sick to see it, and sick to know we'd asked Judith to tape it. Yet when we were children we simply hadn't noticed and it was outside our experience. In my home town there was one Koori (aboriginal) family and the girl my age was a good friend. Interesting that my siblings and I violently rejected so much of what my mother said about races (yet she never treated an individual that way) - but I later realised the world view she had inherited, reinforced by the world of hollywood and ethnic isolation we had had in Australia.

Actually that sparked another memory. I remember around that time realising that our neighbour's little boy watched Australian tv, like Play school, and I realised that he wouldn't see people who looked like him... As he went to play group or kindergarten... how wrong it was that his journey of self discovery as a child must have included the question, why am i different to everyone else? And that hit me really hard.

Abs, I integrated the Catholic elementary school I attended in 1965. The only kids I saw (on a regular basis, until 7th grade) who looked like me were my brother and sister. ;)'re the first person who I've actually seen say, or post online that, 'If the founding fathers' owned a person who looks like u, then you wouldn't consider them as being heroic.' I almost questioned if I consider them as being heroes. Plus, when it comes to white people, (in a Community College environment), if a black man speaks his mind, around a white, 'friend,' or white, 'associate,' and that person calls' him crazy, (in a non-joking way), that white person is not his, 'friend.' It's like, how, 'much more conservative/non-daring does a black man have to be, to be considered, equally, 'sane,' as his white associate/friend?' Besides, some people use the word, 'crazy,' out of context nowadays.

I think Gone with the Wind is an excellent movie for being able to feature a wide variety of actors and am happy that Hattie McDaniel won an Academy Award for her performance. I would hate to have seen her not acknowledged at all for her excellent acting skills. It would have been more a shame to see Gone with the Wind played by whites in black face. It was one of the first movies to show the relationships between blacks and whites and how much whites were depended on blacks for the everyday functioning of their lives. It also featured the strength of women - black and white.<br />
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I do not consider our founding father's heroic. They were business men who looked to make the biggest profit so they could survive and thrive in a new country (America) against an established country (England). Their business practices were brutal and disgraceful. It seems like modern day corporations haven't improved their business practices much since slavery.<br />
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No one can take away the negative stain of slavery, just like Germany cannot remove the stain of Hitler from their history. They are huge black eyes on humanity. None of it should be glorified. It is good to see that through horrific circumstances positive change occurs.

King, first, thanks for your insights. Re GWTW, it illustrates how that 'filter' I mentioned makes a difference in perception. I was always aware how the black slaves were second class, second tier support to the plantation owners who depended upon them, and while I understand it was factual, I really couldn't enjoy it as entertainment, probably for that reason. I found a couple of admirable facts behind the scenes, however. I've read Margaret Mitchell's novel, too, and the producers were able to be prevailed upon to NOT include some key scenes, by the NAACP (against Mitchell's wishes) Those scenes included groups of black men attacking Scarlett and the KKK coming in to save them. The NAACP was concerned showings in the South might prompt mass lynchings, and the director and producer agreed to alter the scenes. Hattie McDaniel was not allowed to attend the original premiere in Atlanta, and Clark Gable threatened to boycott the premiere as well. McDaniel talked him out of it.