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View Diary: I just realized I starred in a racist school program 50 years ago (103 comments)

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  •  The nature of assumptions (10+ / 0-)

    Assumptions are always invisible. They're "natural" and "how things are." That's why they're dangerous. It isn't because they're wrong, because they aren't always wrong, but because they take on the force of nature and slide into the atmosphere.

    This is why Americans can't see that we assume competition is the way to determine value. This is why most Americans can't recognize that our health care system isn't planned, but accidental. It's why "feminine" and "masculine" always seem "normal" and like laws of nature, when they're never very old or stable.

    When I was seven, I loved a very, very old book I had found at my grandparents', Little Black Sambo. I never thought it represented Black children or anything of the sort -- I knew real Black children, and the idea was absurd. I was inoculated, to some degree, in 1970, against what would have been imperceptibly natural in 1960. I wince now.

    Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

    by The Geogre on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 04:14:48 AM PST

    •  Sambo is interesting (6+ / 0-)

      since it actually represents multilayered racism, being originally British racism against ethnic Indians, and only later adopted as plain old American racism against the usual suspects. I use the term suspects in full knowledge of the term's implications.

      We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

      by bmcphail on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 08:03:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sambo was one of my grandmother's favorites. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Powell, bmcphail

        Along with Uncle Remus (featuring Br'er Rabbit and Tar Baby), and The Five Chinese Brothers.  I remember her reading them to me, and I loved the stories.  It was in the early '60s.  Appallingly racist in retrospect, but I remember being in awe of most of the characters, especially the Chinese brothers -- I thought they were the coolest dudes ever.  

        •  I have mixed feelings about Br'er Rabbit (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eikyu Saha

          The stories have been buried in layers of racism but I don't think the original intent was racist nor the stories themselves.

          We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

          by bmcphail on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:45:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's hard to separate the intent from the (0+ / 0-)

            environment of discourse.  Given the science and economics and social power distribution of the time, I don't see how anyone could have NOT been racist, even those who were fully aware of it and tried to fight it head-on.  Even the great works that offered the most powerful indictments of race relations -- like Uncle Tom's Cabin, Max Havelär, or Noli mi tangere -- embodied precisely the attitudes that they attempted to undermine.  

    •  There used to be "Sambo's" restaurants ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... in California. They were coffee shops, similar to Denny's.

      The last one (Santa Barbara) closed not too long ago.

      I can remember going to the Palm Springs Sambo's, as a child. The place mats and menus were illustrated with snippets of the classic children's book, The Story of Little Black Sambo.

      The Sambo of the book was Indian, as the story was written by a Brit (Scottish woman, actually) during the Kipling/Colonial era.

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