Reading about a woman’s movement within the Black Baptist Church between 1880ish and 1920ish. They formed a policy of “politics of respectability.” Which gave a framework for all African American’s to keep in mind when they went about their days. It gave them a way to handle every day situations. There were (& can change that to ‘are’) so many prejudices, stereotypes, racism, elitism that was in place, all to keep this people down. Yet they choose to keep their heads up and choose dignity. I imagine the policy was a saving grace to many who survived Jim Crow days. I knew it was bad. But, I never knew it was that bad. You know laws were such that a WHITE man could rape a little black girl and get away with it once she hit puberty. Insane!!!!! The African American’s that I grew up with, and I remember two families, one that I was particularly close with for awhile, were very dignified people. I grew up with the kids, went to school with them, rode the bus with them. Their sense of humor was better than most peoples, which I am sure must have been one of their greatest survival tools. But, looking back I can see that policy in play. And you know… Bless them all!!! It is very, very difficult to be put down, controlled, abused, beaten and keep your head up and your anger down. I know this from experience. I can not say that I succeeded all the time. I would be a liar if I made that claim. The sickening part is that today–I know of people who would still talk about African American’s as if they were ‘still’ and ‘always’ nothing but ‘bimbos’ and ‘coons’. It is 2020 people…. it is time to let it your hate, and supremist attitudes go! Inside all of us, regardless of the color of our skin, we all bleed red. Our “white heart” breaks just as theirs does and for all the same reasons. We really are all one big family. How did we or do we ever justify treating our brothers and sisters like this? It all makes me sad.
There are a ton of variations on the actual story of “Little Black Sambo” available at Google Books today! FREE!
Growing up in the 70’s, I remember going into those Sambo’s restaurants as a kid with my grandparents. The place was very much like a Denny’s. Burgers, pancakes, soda, getting to sit in a booth!
The treatment was always good, as was the food, and the ambience. I liked it when we got to go to Sambos. But, I was a little girl who was happy to be with her grandparents, and happy to get to go out and eat with them, who had NO clue about the racial connotations of the name, “Sambo’s” meant. I remember my grandparents talking about it once. I remember them looking at the decorated paper table mat. I remember them pointing out a truck on the freeway, today 880 near Oakland, California. With the big restaurant logo and the little boy on the trailer. I never quite understood what they were saying. Today I don’t even remember the words. But, the memory in a far off way, seems to remember an acknowledgement of wrongness at some point. Sad though, I do believe my grandmother was somewhat (huh, is there somewhat? like maybe pregnant?) racist. If I knew then what I know now, I would have asked to boycott the business. I don’t even remember seeing African American’s in those restaurants. Not working nor enjoying a meal. Would boycotting them put some people who need their jobs more than anything else in the world out of work?? I do not know. I only know that this is proof positive that even when I was growing up in the 1970s that racism was still alive and well in America, just the same as it is today.
Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks. Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920. Harvard University Press, 1994