Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins by Thomas G. Smith
Pictured above: Washington Redskins owner George Marshall posing with twins in a publicity photo, 1954
From the article:
Marshall aggressively marketed the Redskins as the South’s team. He would be the last NFL owner to integrate his team and did so after years of heavy resistance and only because of government pressure.
i remember the first time the state math exam tried to include more “multicultural names” and one of the first names i saw was
tey’nay’shi’a and how she needed some “hair products” for her “frizzy hair”
later we had pedro who had some trouble counting out his money from his “earnings” as a “grounds keeper”
Okay no joke I seriously wrote a post like a couple of days ago that’s queued about this exact thing. Like… People don’t believe me that these things were real…
But I’ll never forget Fuji Iwojima and his twelve bags of rice.
Or Aladdin Al-Shakira the petrol mogul.
Or Dancing Feather, the bison hunter.
Or T’naya LaGuardia and her inner-city hair salon.
Or Pedro the grounds keeper. I remember Pedro the grounds keeper.
I wish I was exaggerating.
I remember Aladdin Al-Shakira! I remember getting in trouble during a mock TAKS exam because I blurted out ‘are they fucking serious?’ and the teahcer heard me, oop.
Aladdin Al-Shakira…seriously speechless right now.
Riding bikes everywhere? Using recyclable diapers? Carpooling? We’ve been doing that in Eritrea for decades. Where’s our reward for saving the Earth? Why aren’t we plastered all over Time magazine? If we lived in the same disgusting, gluttonous fashion that Americans lived, this planet would no longer be able to sustain the human race. But yet, they blame the world’s environmental ills on “overpopulation” (code: poor brown people existing) and then usurp our lifestyle habits, trademark it as their own and pat themselves on the back for doing the bare minimum.
How convenient of such a narcissistic nation.
…“American women of wealth, education, virtue and refinement, if you do not wish the lower orders of Chinese, Africans, Germans and Irish, with their low ideas of womanhood, to make laws for you and your daughters … awake to the danger of your present position and demand that woman, too, shall be represented in the government!”
-Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“What words can express her [the white woman’s] humiliation when, at the close of this long conflict, the government which she had served so faithfully held her unworthy of a voice in its councils, while it recognized as the political superiors of all the noble women of the nation the negro men just emerged from slavery, and not only totally illiterate, but also densely ignorant of every public question.”
-Susan B. Anthony
Um. Yeah. That’s real.
I’m seeing a lot of women’s suffrage imagery being posted today, so I thought i’d post some quotes from a book i recently read, “White Women’s Rights” (pdf online for free!), which addresses the racism of that movement. The book was really interesting and highlights some important points about this era. For example, i was previously mistaken that white abolitionist feminists were anti-racists when in fact they still held on to ideas about their own superiority, and this sort of white-savior complex. Additionally, prior to Black suffrage, white abolitionist feminists sometimes claimed that their plight was the same as Black men’s plight.
The majority of the following quotes are post-14th amendment:
In the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s, white suffragists used theories of evolution to support a new rationale for their own enfranchisement, one that depended on redefining what it meant to be a white female citizen. The new definitions made use of older beliefs in white women’s moral superiority but also drew on a growing conviction that white women’s special racial qualities were needed to counteract the influence of the immigrant and African American men who had just been enfranchised.
…the maintenance of their specific forms of moral virtue—purity, piety, empathy, and spirituality—depended on their staying outside
existing political institutions and structures. White women were expected to remain in the domestic sphere and to exert their moral influence from within the home through their roles as wives and mothers.
…White women began to assert themselves as the rightful, natural protectors of uncivilized races (the protectors of black men, not the other way around) and used this racialized responsibility to assert their rights as white (“Saxon” ) female citizens.
…theories of evolution linked civilization and sexual difference in
such a way that calling for change in woman’s sphere seemed to threaten the advancement of whites’ civilization. The problem facing postbellum white suffragists, then, was how to argue that the franchise would alter woman’s sphere but not diminish whites’ sexual differences or endanger their civilization. To address this problem,
some white suffragists reaffirmed a pre-evolutionist view of woman’s nature, insisting on the principle of the stability of sexual differences against the tenet of change in evolutionist theory, to justify the idea that woman’s sphere could be modified without producing corresponding changes in woman’s nature. Suffragist Margaret Evans explained, “Experience proves that true womanly qualities are too firmly founded on immutable laws to be shaken by the fall of a ballot.” Other suffragists, however, accepted evolutionary predictions that woman’s nature would evolve in response to changes in woman’s sphere and were careful to defend their proposals on the grounds that it would be evolutionarily advantageous for white women to vote.
This book also discusses the ways in which the white women of this so-called first wave of feminism reinforced ideas about sexual difference to make their arguments.
White middle-class women did not hesitate to use this conception of their race-, class-, and gender-specific forms of moral superiority to buttress their claims to political and social authority, particularly in calling for reform of business, law, education, medicine, and politics. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the intellectual powerhouse behind the suffrage movement, held firmly to moral distinctions and discussed them in gendered and racialized terms. In 1869 she referred to the “male element [as] a destructive force, stern, selfish, aggrandizing, loving war, violence, conquest, acquisition, breeding in the material and moral world alike discord, disorder, disease and death” and pointed out that “philosophy and science alike point to [white] woman, as the new power destined to redeem the world.” In 1890 she stated, “Our civilization today is strictly masculine, everything is carried by force and violence and war, and will be until the feminine
element is fully recognized, and has equal power in the regulation of human affairs. Then we shall substitute co-operation for competition, persuasion for coercion, individual sovereignty for absolute authority.”
…As they moved toward advocating that women could potentially become more like men, white women knew they were threatening the hierarchy of sexual difference on which white civilization was based. Thus they had to find ways to reassure themselves that increasing the similarity of activities performed by themselves and (white) men would not bring about racial degeneration or undermine their own racialized conceptions of themselves as belonging to a superior race and civilization.
The book also addresses the early feminist movement in relation to white women’s role in civilizing Native Americans, and then in further colonization efforts outside of the U.S./England. There are some more quotes here if you can’t take the time to read the whole book.
It is important to avoid romanticizing the women’s suffrage movement and consider the complexity of the issue. I’m not seeing anything discussing or depicting the violence that was part of this movement- no, that doesn’t fit in with the image of that movement.
I resist the temptation to provide an Emma Goldman quote on suffrage, however, knowing that there is the possibility that she was also complicit in racism, specifically eugenics. Nonetheless, let’s just imagine what could’ve happened if people previously excluded from participation resisted inclusion in the system as a solution.
I literally got sucked into the controversies in Arizona. I have been interested in the abuse of immigrants there since the 1970s with the Hanigan Case where a well-connected rancher and owner of a Dairy Queen and his two sons tortured three undocumented Mexican workers. It infuriated me that the state court would not convict them.
My interest peaked in the 1980s with the sanctuary movement and the trial of my friend and poet Demetria Martínez for transporting two Salvadoran undocumented workers. Demetria was acquitted but a 25-year sentence hung over her head and that bothered me.
The persecution of undocumented workers picked up in the late 1990s as the government closed the corridors carrying drugs and poor Latin Americans into the United States from Baja California and points south. The tactic was inhumane, forcing immigrants to travel through the badlands of Southern Arizona, which was dominated by right wing ranchers who would hunt down the Mexican workers and their families.
What they could not “roundup,” the boiling sun would kill. To date way over a thousand Mexicans and Latin Americans have died on the hot sands of southern Arizona—a thousand fold more than died trying to get across the Berlin Wall.
SB 1070 was passed in 2010. It brought an immediate reaction both inside and outside Arizona. A boycott was called, which quickly dissipated. For a time, unions and progressives outside of Arizona held rallies in Phoenix. However, Arizona’s anti-racist campaign was quickly eclipsed as struggles in Wisconsin and Ohio took center stage. Not wanting to offend local contributors the Democratic Party turned the other way and allowed Blue Dogs and others to make their arrangements as political judgments dictated their choices.
I write all the time about white supremacy as a significant aspect of capitalist culture, but it doesn’t mean I think all white people are racist assholes. I’ve alienated my entire family because of the choice I’ve made to write about the social order in capitalism that implements white supremacy as a tool for disciplining democracy and constructing a hierarchy for composed individuals.
But I’m not a pessimist. I love people. I love to love others. I’m one of the most loyal friends you’ll ever have. I’m not possessive. I’m kind of a softy. I’m a sucker for community organizing and will always give up the focus to participate in collaborative projects. Damn it if my time in the US this summer didn’t try my optimism. I witnessed white people betraying their unconscious racism to Praise on more than one occasion. Why do white folks think it’s ok to tell racist jokes as long as their listener is not white? Do white people think Praise ever is going to find ching-chong’ing funny? The answer is a resounding YES. And Praise is the jerk if she should take offense.
Bigotry is difficult to confront because it appears natural. The Asians can’t drive joke in the US is a good example of this. When white people get to Korea, we treat it as a free-for-all for all the racist excess stored in our memories. All that hate wants to come out via observations about the reality of racist tropes. For example, “Koreans really can’t drive!” That’s not a comment about the driving habits of Koreans, it’s a thinly veiled excuse to recall one persistent, common racist trope from back home and to insist it’s a just trope, that it’s so, because “I’m not racist.”
Praise and I were going to try to attend a Saturday afternoon Cubs game. When we got close to Wrigley Field, we realized that the game had already begun and decided to grab a drink in a bar and watch the game on TV. Relax. Have a Bloody Mary. Talk. Wait for a couple of hours before hanging with her cousin. The bar was filled with drunk fans. Mostly white with a few black customers. Praise was the only Asian-American there. It didn’t take long before a guy at a table next to us drunkenly uttered, “Me so horny!” Pretty offensive, but we watched him and he wasn’t even aware that Praise and I were sitting across from him. She had just returned from the bathroom, and I’m sure he saw her earlier and then, as she walked by, caught her in his field of vision. In his drunken stupor, he simply spoke what came to his mind: a racist trope constructed from a popular American film. That’s how white people see people of color, as naturalized subjects of racist tropes constructed for them. This isn’t extraordinary; this is common.
I take a lot of shit from friends, family, colleagues, strangers for my race traitor ways, but I ask, What are we supposed to do? Am I doomed to watching racism do its thing and people passively and actively engaging white supremacy without noticing because of some warped sense of civility and stupid sense of liberty?
I witnessed white people using Praise as a receptacle for racist rhetoric this summer. I watched people objectify her. I’m implicated in this racist order, not because I’m astounded at white people’s naïveté, but because I am a part of it. I learn from her and enjoy watching her take on the bigots. We promised not to keep quiet about it when it happens.
It’s important to write about these things, not simply to call out bigots like social justice bloggers like to do, but to encourage others to do so as well. You’ll notice I don’t find racist shit and post it on my blog with notes like “LOOK AT THIS RACIST CRAP!” or “YOU’RE RACIST!” It’s important to write about racism in order to examine our role in white supremacist capitalism and to learn how to navigate it in a more conscious and productive manner. It’s important to invite participation. Social Justice is much more often about distinguishing than it is about building anti-racist consensus in our communities. I can finger-point all day long, but I’m still a white guy. I can’t distance myself from the privileged role I was born to perform simply because I hate racism. I have to do something to help transform society. I can’t do anything to change my role.
I cannot recommend dagseoul’s blog enough.
It reminds me of the “bike to work” movement. That is also portrayed as white, but in my city more than half of the people on bike are not white. I was once talking to a white activist who was photographing “bike commuters” and had only pictures of white people with the occasional “black professional” I asked her why she didn’t photograph the delivery people, construction workers etc. … ie. the black and Hispanic and Asian people… and she mumbled something about trying to “improve the image of biking” then admitted that she didn’t really see them as part of the “green movement” since they “probably have no choice” –
I was so mad I wanted to quit working on the project she and I were collaborating on.
So, in the same way when people in a poor neighborhood grow food in their yards … it’s just being poor– but when white people do it they are saving the earth or something.
Comes from the Spanish conquests where the Spaniards apparently in those days called each other “chivato,” which means, you know, goat. “Ay chivato, que estas hacienda chivato?” And it became vato and it went, passed down through the ages as dude, guy. But you know I had that talk and I had that accent and though I looked Irish. And we got to this neighborhood and suddenly I went to fifth grade and I was in the restroom my first week of fifth grade and this spectacularly white boy, you know, freckles, bright red hair the epitome of who I’d be with from now on said to me, “You’re a greaser wetback.” And I thought, “What is that?” And I said, “I’m a what?” And he said, “You’re a greaser wetback.” And all the boys laughed at me, walked out of the bathroom. And I remember sitting there thinking well, you know, you’re a kid and you internalize these things and you take them concretely. And I was convinced somewhere on my back there was a patch of grease I couldn’t find, right, and I was looking for the grease, I couldn’t find it. And that was the most spectacular moment for me when I realized I was other, I hadn’t known it before.
BILL MOYERS: Well, now, that’s a common experience for immigrants in America, wop, spic— all of that. How do you process it?
LUIS ALBERTO URREA: I came home that day and my father processed it for me. And this may be partially why I’m a writer. But I got home, my father worked in bowling alleys night crew, he was a very smart, literate man who had achieved quite a bit in Mexico, couldn’t get there in the United States. He couldn’t find his way in a lot of ways. He, you know, he knew English was paramount, so he memorized the dictionary, five pages a week. I had to give my father English tests. But I got home and my father was getting ready to go to the night shift. And he always smoked Pall Malls, and he would tip his head when he had a point to— he’d do this. And he was looking at me when I came in and he said, “What’s the matter with you?” And I said, “Nothing.” And he said, “Mi hijo, que traes?” And I said, “Nothing.” “I can see you’re upset. What are you upset about?” I said, “Oh, they called me a name.” He said, “Really? What name did they call you?” I said, “They told me I was a greaser.” And he looked at me just for a second, and I knew because he went like this and I thought, “Oh, here it comes.” And what I thought was going to happen didn’t happen, because I thought he was going to go on a diatribe about these people. And he says to me, “Mi hijo, in the western expansion across the United States the Americanos came in covered wagons. The wagons were made of wood, entirely of wood. The axles, los ejes was made of wood, mi hijo. So they would get to about Texas and the friction heat up the wood.” He said, “y se quemaba todo.” The wagons would burn down. He said, “You know who the only people in the world with the technology to grease the axles was Mexicans.” And I was looking at him, and he said, “So when they call you a greaser hold your head up because it’s a term of pride.” And I knew my dad was lying. You know, I knew he— but it was so brilliant. Even as a fifth grader, I saw my father take a moment of shame and through a story, right, turn it into something to try to lift his kid up. And then he went off to the bowling alley to clean toilets all night.