Legacy of the Big Black Buck

 Race, Sex and Social Media

The most powerful southern racist narrative involves swarthy and virile black men, slaves originally, having their way with lily white belles while the master is out.

The chaste and pure mistress succumbs to the animal passions of her ebony attacker and it is left to white men to redeem her virtue by an act of violence.

(The truth is sometimes the opposite: the white slave owner was far more likely to be “making little Jeffersons” with his female slaves be they willing or no.)

belle

Redemption by lynching was the preferred method but shooting and torture would do in a pinch.

The myth was so powerful in southern culture that blacks accused of looking at or flirting with white women could be murdered with impunity.

Emmett Till, 14 years old in 1955, was beaten, had an eye gouged out and was shot in the head for allegedly engaging in such flirting while on a trip to Mississippi.

In 1956, Till’s killers said, “I like niggers—in their place—I know how to work ’em. But I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice.”  

(That was 90 years after the end of slavery.)

Emmett Till

Emmett Till

Amy Strickland

Ms. Strickland, a Norfolk Virginia assistant principal, apparently re-tweeted a “a photo of high school couples posing for a prom photo: Each of the girls were white, and all of the guys were black.”

The photo’s caption read, “Every white girl’s father’s worst nightmare Or Nah?”, according to the Daily News.

Couldn’t she at least come up with her own material?

It may be that in the minds of some passing along garbage rather than actually making it is somehow less odious.

It’s not.

The tweet is a 21st century freshening up of a 19th century myth replete with a patriarchal reference where elder white men are panicked at the sight of white women in the arms of black men.

That it came from an educator working at a school named Booker T. Washington is profoundly disturbing.

Booker Taliaferro Washington

Booker T, Washington

Booker T. Washington

Booker Washington was America’s preeminent black leader during the very period when lynchings were at their peak.

He is a founder of the Civil Rights movement.

He was criticized for his apparent moderation in the fight over segregation in the post-reconstruction era when blacks were still little more than slaves.

Washington was born a slave and went on to lead the prestigious Tuskegee Institute.

Would Washington be surprised at how durable racism is?

Probably not.

The Real Legacy

We like to think that we live in a “post racial” society but that’s a myth too.

If ignorant adults want to call each other names on their off hours that’s ok but sending negative messages to our youth is just plain hateful.

Micheal Lemelle, a young student at Washington, said:

“Me being a young African-American, I don’t think of myself as anyone’s worst nightmare.” 

Ms. Strickland is being paid to create future Booker T. Washingtons.

That won’t happen until she stops treating young people as Emmett Tills in word if not in deed.

 

 

 

7 Comments

  • Don Jewett says:

    She’s since stated that both of her daughters attended prom with black students, public perception can many times label people something they’re not.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      So, she drug her daughters into this cesspool? Nice touch. Unfortunately for her this is about
      her actions and not what her children did. Nice parenting, too: push the kids right out front.

      BTW, when you are out at the mall and some saggy pants rascal repeatedly drops the N-bomb around you and yours, can he just say, in his defense, that he heard it at the prom?

  • Jana Lamar says:

    Thanks Eric. This hit home on a few levels.

  • Don Jewett says:

    Eric, actually that was just a small tidbit I took from her interview to share. I personally don’t think she’s a racist, things can be skewed so far out of control in the PC world we live in. I live close to where she works, if you knew the demographics you’d know she maybe made an error in judgement but she truly wants to make a difference at her school. If she wanted too she could transfer to another lily white schools within 20 miles of her school.

    The meme is certainly offensive and I don’t approve it, but we all need to step back and maybe not take things so seriously. Personally, I could care less how anyone stereotypes me (and that’s exactly what this meme was, a play on stereotypes.), I know who I am. Maybe we should all just embrace each other and laugh at ourselves a little more, reading between the lines on every issue gets old real quick. None of us are perfect.

  • Don Jewett says:

    I neglected to point out, she shared this with one of her daughters (who’s date to prom was a young black man) and I’d like to think she was pointing out the obvious stereotype portrayed. (Apparently others can see those type of posts, I’m not familiar with it.)

  • EMT RJ-FL says:

    Your post brought a smile of rememberence of the
    “blaxplotation” movies of ths 70’s such as mandingo. The relations and myths are still evident today as you said (so i guess that events in ferguson aint much of a suprise)..but in the same breath i say the only way you change a perception is by conscious change…speaking as a black person i guess we can start by NOT dressing like gangstas BECAUSE if it walks like a gangster and acts like a gangster…and white people need to let go of their beliefs too and “understand” that to some black people the confederate flag is a “symbol” co opted by staunch racists…(i see it as a white flag because…they gave up) so when they wave it i say “ok i get it…you’re proud of having surrendered”….see i changed a perception all by myself

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