Television

America's History of Racial Violence Collides with Horror Tropes in Them

If you miss Lovecraft Country, Amazon has an alternative.

|

Them: Covenant. Available now on Amazon Prime Video.

First, let's discuss what Them: Covenant is not. Despite the name and the 1950s setting, it's got nothing to do with big ants. And even though it's about black people moving north to escape racism, only to find themselves in a haunted house, it's not the second season of HBO's Lovecraft Country.

That latter guess is rather close, though—too close, probably, for Covenant's own good. It's the second TV show in a year to use the horror genre as a tool for the exploration of the totalitarian nature of American racism in the first half of the 20th century and the epic effort it took for black people to resist. Had Covenant not languished in development hell for a couple of years after Amazon first struck a deal for it, it probably would have been first and avoided the faint whiff of been-there-done-that which clings to it.

Not that there are major differences in the two shows. Lovecraft Country used—not very successfully—its namesake's Cthulhu mythos to portray 1950s America as a malign and irrational landscape where racist violence could come boiling up, unprovoked, at any moment.

Covenant, by contrast, is a conventional haunted-house story set against the backdrop of the so-called Great Migration, during which 7 million blacks—spurred on by what they saw of the Jim Crow-free north as World Wars I and II shuffled soldiers and defense workers around the country—relocated away from the south. Livia and Henry Emory (Deborah Ayorinde of Luke Cage and Ashley Thomas of Salvation) are among them, heading along with their two young daughters from rural North Carolina to Southern California in the wake of World War II.

The Emorys are in part drawn by the post-war technology boom in Los Angeles (he's an engineer, she's a schoolteacher). But they're also fleeing some cloudy recent trauma, the details of which emerge only in drip-by-drip flashbacks at the start of each episode. Either way, their hopes of a tranquil new life are in vain. First, drawn by an inexplicably cheap house, they've elected to locate in suburban Compton.

Compton these days is known for its black street gangs and rough-and-tumble rap culture. But in 1950 it was a prim little white suburb that intended to stay that way; the only street gangs were white, working with the cops to keep would-be black homeowners out. The entire city (like much of Southern California) was enmeshed in a thicket of protective covenants.

The Supreme Court two years earlier had outlawed the housing covenant, but its presence on the Emorys' bill of sale made the neighborhood's attitude clear. And if it didn't, the line of white harpies waiting in front of the house on their first day, playing radios tuned to egregiously racist pop music, certainly made the message plain. From there, it's a short step to strangling the family dog, burning the words "NIGGER HEAVEN" into the lawn, and hanging a line of black dollies dangling from hangman's nooses on the front porch.

If the anti-welcome-wagon neighbors weren't scary enough—and they are, director Nelson Cragg has a blood-chilling talent for racist choreography—the Emorys soon discover there's something amiss with the house, which is pretty enough but comes fully equipped with banging windows, echoing footsteps and generally Amityvillian phenomenon—including, of course, a dank, underlit basement possibly populated by phantoms. (Covenant, like so many haunted-house movies, is set in pre-flashlight America.)

What makes the haunts even worse is that both Livia and Henry Emory suffer from hallucinations (he from being used as a guinea pig in U.S. Army biochemical experiments during World War II, she from that nameless trauma back in North Carolina) and it's never quite clear whether they're really seeing what they're seeing. What's beyond doubt: "There's something bad in this house," as their kindergarten-age daughter Gracie (newcomer Melody Hurd, in an outstanding performance) puts it.

Covenant is so effective at illustrating the racial ugliness of the post-war era that at times you have to wonder if it's exaggerating things. (Would a Southern California classroom really break into jungle noises the first time a black student spoke? And would a teacher really send that student to the office for "disrupting class" as a result?) But in the broad strokes, at least, the show is alarmingly truthful. White race riots, particularly when residential color lines were broken, were a depressingly common occurrence in the north during the Great Migration, in Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, Washington D.C., and many other cities. In Chicago at one point, eight black homebuyers were bombed in three months.

The ruthless fury of white homeowners described in nonfiction accounts like Kevin Boyle's Arc of Justice makes the white neighbors of Covenant seem, if anything, somewhat mild-mannered. (At least in the four episodes I watched, they didn't kill anybody or blow anything up.)  Somehow, however, their lack of true derangement makes their cold-bloodedness all the more frightening. Interestingly, creator-screenwriter Little Marvin has made the neighborhood's women the intellectual authors of the terrorism against the Emorys, hectoring and belittling their husbands for not using a harder hand.

The most frightening of them is a blonde Barbie doll named Betty (Alison Pill, who played a Manson girl in one season of American Horror Story), who in a sidewalk confrontation with Livia Emory icily warns her, "If it were me, I can't imagine living someplace I wasn't wanted." Her slight twist to the word "living" makes it sound like a temporary condition.

For all Covenant's effectiveness at depicting the insane frustration of black life in America in 1950, it still has multiple failings as a drama, particularly on the supernatural side of story. Who those underlit and underwritten ghosts are, what they want, and even what they're doing is never apparent. And at times, Little Marvin forgets he's telling a story and lapses into editorial-writing. What in hell is "Dem Niggers Ain't Playing," a ranting 1971 rap record by the Watts Prophets, doing on the soundtrack of a show set in 1950? Little Marvin's got a chilling tale to tell about the Great Migration. There's no need to junk it up with confused ghosts and anachronistic rappers.

NEXT: Contrary to What Biden Says, Gun Show Sales Aren't Exempt From Background Checks

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. really fucking tired of hearing about America’s history of racial violence. discuss …

    1. A country’s history of racism should always be a topic that can (and should occasionally) be discussed.

      But there is a current trend to frame the conversation as if it’s the ONLY topic for America, and it’s becoming as tiring as it is myopic.

      1. >can … be discussed

        that part sure. “should occasionally” I don’t care about anymore. I’ve reached “fuck off” about racism

        1. USA Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular fff office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
          on this page…..VISIT HERE

      2. I’m pretty sure the ‘woke’ pendulum is swinging back. Patience.

        Have you noticed that people in Seattle are starting to openly discuss how homeless camps on school grounds might not be the best thing for kids’ safety? Seems like a no-brainer, but six months ago that would get you called a nazi and frog marched out of the PTA meeting.

        Hey, it’s a step in the right direction.

        1. I agree the pendulum will swing back, and also think it has started. The woke problem is their denial of reality. AGW is a lie, and their plans to counter it are so expensive and ridden with non-climate goals that they can’t get any traction. Sleepy Joe’s massive spending is over ten years, will be junked before it gets very far, and there simply aren’t enough resources to accomplish many of them anyway. The public as a whole doesn’t care about it, as shown by polling. Personal pronouns and other such woke nonsense just make them look stupid and piss off everyone who gets a lecture from the media. The media’s lies and bias are more and more obvious, and more and more of the public is tuning them out. Amazon’s censorship, of books, movies, platforms, and people, is more and more limiting their audience, and like all bigots who self-limit their audience, they are making room for competitors.

          It’s all backfiring, but slowly now. It will gain steam and the woke will be discarded, but it will take a while.

        2. Did you hear what United Airlines declared the other day? They are doubling down.

          1. Until they get their fucking faces sued off you mean.

          2. Giant corps are always the last to get the memo; well maybe second to last. Government is last.

        3. Meh. The teachers, and other attention whores are swinging back at the mildly expressed notion that dead naked people being found on school grounds is a bad thing.

          This “conversation” might not be heading into the ‘student safety’ direction you are implying.

    2. Just drive through south Chicago tonight for an updated version. Those little angels will welcome you with a “bang”.

    3. LIFE CHANGING OPPORTUNITY BE an Internet HOME-BASED real Earner.I am just BVGF working on facebook only 3 to 4 hours a Day and earning £47786 a month easily, that is handsome earning to meet my extra expenses and that is really life changing opportunity. Let me give you a little insight into what I do….. Visit Here

  2. And even though it’s about black people moving north to escape racism, only to find themselves in a haunted house

    Let me take a run at this.

    Black family moves North to escape racism, but discovers a darker, hidden racism when they arrive in the North.

    1. Sounds about right.

      I was kind of enjoying lovecraft country. It was dumb and silly, but at least the acting and dialogue was not terrible. Then they had to force a rather graphic sex scene between 2 middle aged men into an episode.

      I always wondered who these people were who were getting offended by shit on tv. I’m pretty socially liberal, but they found my limit. I’m not writing letters to the editor or anything, but I did not go back to watch any more.

      It’s not homophobia. I would have the same reaction if they forced me to watch two obese or elderly people doing it too. Sex scenes should be appealing to watch, or at least have something critical to the plot to convey. But gratuitous sex scenes between two people that almost nobody wants to see fucking, …why?

      1. Several HBO and Showtime series start with a graphic sex scene. They don’t even bother building the plot. Just straight to the corn mining. I just don’t get it. Nobody wants to see that right off the bat. If they did, they could just watch porn.

        1. “corn mining” ha ha.

          Yeah. I never could get into “Spartacus” for that reason. Half the episodes were slow motion orgies or highly stylized combat. Nah, I’d just watch WWE and porn if I wanted to get the same content in 1/4 the time.

          1. I saw enough man on man action in the Iraqi barracks to last a lifetime. I heard the Turks “breaking in new privates” during operation Provide Comfort. I also saw a man “dancing with a sheep” through my rifle scope on a mission in Iraq once. I’m no prude, but it was enough to make me embrace “G” rated movies.

            1. Haha. Nothing quite like a tickle fight in the barracks. Hey, what smells like wet dog in here?

              The Kurds, as much as I love them, had a disgusting habit of proudly showing off their donkey love making on their phones.

              1. I once tried to help a Marine officer with severe PTSD at Leatherneck. The poor guy had not even been in a firefight yet nor had he lost any friends. He had just attended a meeting with an Afghan police chief that spoke at length about his sex life with his donkey. He went on and on, as this is something normal. He kept repeating, “it is good for you, and it is good for the donkey”.
                If only the American people knew.

                1. I refer the doubters to this excellent documentary on the subject:

                  https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/dancingboys/

                  Warning: it is tough to stomach.

                  I myself thought that the stories I heard from OEF/OIF vets were embellishments before I witnessed it firsthand.

                  1. A scientist at work approached me about the book “Horse Soldiers”. I told him that one of our team members was there. He freaked out and could not wait to meet the man, whose name was Butch. I made the introduction.
                    The scientist started asking questions of Butch, and Butch was answering them. The scientist was starstruck, clearly, he was very interested in the book and thought that every character in the book was a superhero.
                    The scientist asked, “You actually know the warlord, Dostrum?
                    Butch replied, “That boy fucker”? “Yeah, I know that boyfucker”!
                    The scientist reeled backwards. He asked,”What do you mean, boy fucker”?
                    Butch replied, “He fucks boys, he always has a few with him”.
                    The scientist did not like that peek into reality at all. I thought that he was going to vomit.
                    As for Dostrum the boy fucker, he is here in the US. The Officers from “Horse Soldiers” helped him get here. They are real heroes, huh?

                    1. I think one of that team was an instructor at sopc (a pre-selection course they added for 18x’s) when I was there, and several dudes from 555, including one who’s name starts with a ‘Z’ and wrote a book…

        2. As I recall from the history of Stargate: SG-1, Showtime gave the producers a directive that there must be nudity in the show. So they put a nude scene in the pilot episode to reassure the network executives that they were following instructions and never intended to do it again.

          The people making these shows may be just ticking off a box the networks expect them to.

          1. Same thing for Poltergeist: The Legacy (which was on HBO, I think).

      2. Yeah, the first season True Detective suffered from that. I could have done with less Woody Harrelson sex scenes. Even if he did bang hot chicks.

  3. This is so boring.

    All niggers all the time isn’t creative or interesting. It’s just lazy.

  4. 1950s America as a malign and irrational landscape where racist violence could come boiling up, unprovoked, at any moment.”
    sounds like 2020 to me with racial violence springing up all over the place

  5. “springing up”? It is always there. It will always be there. They are ignored until it fits the current agenda.
    800+ murders, 4000 shootings in Chicago last year. 80% of the shootings and homicides are black on black. Black people are only 30% of the population. The Chicago leadership, who are all POCs, blame the police and white supremacists. It is a nifty trick considering that the Chicago police only killed 7 people last year and wounded 13. Not a single white supremacist was involved in any murder or shooting. Weird, huh?
    It has always been violent in blue cities and always will be as long as they continue to live in denial. The “community organizin” crowd that was inspired by Obama will continue this nonsense until genocide occurs.

    1. I think there is going to be a bit of a return to talks of personal responsibility regarding issues in the black community.

      The recent wave of attacks on elderly Asians (frequently by young black delinquents) caught on camera, and the response of wokistas to blame white people for them has most regular people, even liberal ones, saying “Hold on a minute…”

      1. I don’t think so. They are entrenched. The situation in Chicago is not new. It has been the same for my entire life. They don’t look within at all. They blame outside influences or people that are completely unrelated to the issues. No matter how outlandish the claim, they are not shouted down, ever. Logic doesn’t work. Statistics are considered racist. It backfires regularly but they stay on the same course.
        In the 80s, Jessie Jackson called for a boycott of Chicagofest. It was, by far, the best Chicagofest of all time. Mobs of suburbanites that stopped visiting the city due to the violence decided to attend. Tickets sold out. The T-shirt vendors made massive amounts of money. They were selling shirts that said, “Thanks, Jessie”.
        https://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/08/02/ChicagoFest-boycott-faltering/8754397108800/

        1. We will see. This is all just a gut feeling for now.

          I don’t think the change is coming largely from within the black community, and certainly not the people who have been profiting from the current dynamic. But these attacks against Asians have really driven a wedge into the whole intersectionality-based woke movement. Once non-black “allies” stop parroting some of this shit, it’s dead, whether or not Jesse Jackson goes along with it.

          See the attempt at “fatphobia” & “fat-shaming” and adding fat people to the list of contestants in the oppression olympics. It fell on it’s (fat) face. I never see fat acceptance stuff on the net now, but 2 years ago it was hot. Hell, I took a gender studies class within the last decade and the “professor” tried to add the fat acceptance deal to the course. I highly doubt she would do that today.

          (Got a 4.0 as my course grade even though she kept giving me C’s on my papers. Threatened to request a grading audit and she buckled fast. I exceeded the grading matrix in every category on every paper, but always drew my own conclusion, rather than hers. She hated me.)

          These trends are driven largely by young people. They tend to change their minds more frequently than older people. I’m not saying its going to be rapid change. But I think we have already seen peak “wokeness”.

      2. They are not saying “hold on a minute.” They are saying “nothing to see here.”

        “White people (exclusively) are terrible” is what they’re going with, come hell or high water. There might be a backlash, but woke self reflection is not in the cards.

  6. Black violence against whites is higher. So yeah not buying into this bullshit.

    1. “Black violence against whites is higher. So yeah not buying into this bullshit.”

      No doubt you cheered when Trump retweeted some white supremacist completely made up bullshit statistics about black on white crime early in the 2016 campaign.

      1. So are you trying to tell us that White on black violence equals or exceeds Black on white violence? Because those pesky racist statistics from the bullshit racist DOJ say otherwise.
        Violent crimes (murder,rape, armed robbery) excluding simple assaut, its 10 to 1
        With assault, its 6 to 1

        1. Did I say that? I was looking at what buckleup wrote, asserted without any evidence or citation of facts, and immediately noticed the parallel to an infamous moment from 2015, during the campaign, when Trump retweeted something claiming that Blacks murdered whites at a much higher rate than vice versa. It was completely made up bullshit.

          https://www.factcheck.org/2015/11/trump-retweets-bogus-crime-graphic/

          Show me where your stats come from, please, so that I can verify its source as being reliable and not just more white supremacist bullshit.

          1. From the link you provided:
            In cases when the race of the perpetrator and victim were known, among the 3,021 white victims of murder in 2014, 2,488 of them were killed by white offenders, and 446 were killed by black offenders. Among the 2,451 black murder victims in 2014, 187 of them were killed by white offenders, and 2,205 were killed by black offenders. Here’s how the percentages work out:
            Blacks killed by whites: 7.6 percent.
            Whites killed by whites: 82.4 percent.
            Whites killed by blacks: 14.8 percent.
            Blacks killed by blacks: 90 percent.
            When you consider 99.9 percent of the black offenders are male and only make up 6.5% of the population yet murder almost 2.5 times as many whites as whites murder blacks doesn’t that prove blacks murder whites at a much higher rate then white murder blacks?
            You posted the statistics and they sound about right.

            1. “When you consider 99.9 percent of the black offenders are male and only make up 6.5% of the population yet murder almost 2.5 times as many whites as whites murder blacks doesn’t that prove blacks murder whites at a much higher rate then white murder blacks?”

              You aren’t parsing the numbers correctly. Rates are determined as a # of occurrences divided by some other unit. Depending on what kind of rate you are talking about, you would set it up differently. For example, the rate of fuel consumption of a vehicle could be fuel weight or volume divided by either time or miles traveled, depending on what you want to consider.

              You want the rate at which murders occur, broken down by the race of victims and perpetrator. You clearly want to consider this in terms of the size of the total population, so the # of murders should be divided by a population total.

              446 white victims of Black offenders in 2014 out of a total white population that year of 246.35 million. That’s 1.81 whites murdered by Blacks per 1 million white population. That is the rate at which Black people killed white people that year. 187 Black victims of white offenders with a total Black population of 42.09 million people works out to 4.44 Blacks murdered by whites per 1 million Black population.

              You found that “almost 2.5 times” as many whites were killed by Blacks as Blacks killed by whites, but that wasn’t a rate. Once you actually factor population totals into those numbers, you get the rate that you seem to be interested in. Only it doesn’t come out the way you thought it did. It comes out about exactly opposite.

              It also seems unlikely that 99.9% of Black offenders were male, given that the figure was roughly 10% female in the FBI statistics the article I linked cited. You just made an assumption on that, I take it?

        2. Haha. No. He’s saying he hates trump. And he doesn’t care about statistics cuz it’s all racist.

          1. “Haha. No. He’s saying he hates trump.”

            Yes. I do hate Donald Trump, and that is not sarcasm. I feel like I have many good reasons for that hatred, though, based on everything that he has said and done since gliding down his golden escalator. Those reasons include that retweet that I mention, and his unapologetic response to criticism for having sent that retweet when others pointed out that it was completely fabricated.

            “And he doesn’t care about statistics cuz it’s all racist.”

            I “care” about whether the statistics that people cite can be verified as accurate. When they are shown to be false, people should acknowledge that and adjust views they had that were based on the false information. I’m happy to consider information that contradicts what I believe to be true. If you or diWhite Knightoxide have any, present them.

            1. In cases when the race of the perpetrator and victim were known, among the 3,021 white victims of murder in 2014, 2,488 of them were killed by white offenders, and 446 were killed by black offenders. Among the 2,451 black murder victims in 2014, 187 of them were killed by white offenders, and 2,205 were killed by black offenders. Here’s how the percentages work out:
              Blacks killed by whites: 7.6 percent.
              Whites killed by whites: 82.4 percent.
              Whites killed by blacks: 14.8 percent.
              Blacks killed by blacks: 90 percent.
              What President Trump retweeted looks like someone switched the whites killed by whites and whites killed by blacks percentage. That wasn’t the focus of the post which was how many blacks are killed by blacks.
              Hating someone because they retweeted a mistake made by someone else seems a bit lacking in socio-emotional maturity.

              1. “Hating someone because they retweeted a mistake made by someone else seems a bit lacking in socio-emotional maturity.”

                Mistake? The graphic included a picture of a guy wearing a mask, holding a handgun sideways, “gangsta” style, and cited “Crime Statistics Bureau – San Francisco”, which doesn’t exist. This was clearly not a mistake, but someone making up crap to push a false narrative. And Trump tried the whole, “but it was just a retweet” argument, and that fails completely, too. If he couldn’t be bothered to do any basic fact checking before retweeting something that would so obviously be controversial, then he shouldn’t have sent it. Then, if Trump had acknowledged that what he retweeted was false, then it could still be forgivable. But as I said, and as you can read in the link, he did what he always does when someone points to something he says as being false. He doubled down, referring to it coming “from sources that are very credible, what can I tell you.”

                And again, if this had been a one-time thing, it wouldn’t necessarily have poisoned my whole opinion of him. But it was part of a consistent pattern, where he has absolutely no regard for whether he is saying something true or not. It only mattered if it fit with what would be useful to him at the time. At the time, it was useful to him to scare white people into thinking that an army of dark-skinned criminals would come for them if they didn’t vote Trump. That is behavior I find worthy of hate. Why don’t you?

  7. playing radios tuned to egregiously racist pop music, certainly made the message plain.

    FYI, the song you linked to could very easily be argued is NOT racist. While it uses simplistic stereotypes (and quite unrealistic ones at that) in the portrayal of the Congo Native, the song is a kind of classic critique on the absurdities of so-called civilization from the perspective of the native who lives a simpler, free and more peaceful life. There is no denigration of the native person portrayed in the song. On the contrary, the negative portrayals are of the people attempting to convince the Congo native to leave the jungle.

  8. Compton is one of the older cities in the L.A. Area and may have been less subject to this particular impact, but a huge portion of the resale “compacts” and restrictions were written into the title documents on real estate as a result of the “redlining” restrictions which carried-over from FHA boilerplate and became part of the GI-mortgages which were used to buy most of the huge swaths of post-war tract homes that were put up in the area from 1946 through sometime in the 50’s or maybe early 60’s. During that period of building, employers used to use the promise of ample, affordable housing as part of their recruiting pitch to get employees to come work in Southern California.

    At that time, Black citizens were almost entirely restricted to the city of Watts and the “South Central District” of Los Angeles (which at the time was a corridor of blocks along a stretch of Central Blvd south of where the 10 Freeway is now; when the restriction language was declared unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable around 1970, areas which are now often described as “south Los Angeles” or even “South Central L.A.” began to diversify (likely compounded by some amount of “white flight” to new suburbs in Orange County and the SFV) and many such as Compton, Inglewood, and parts of Los Angeles in between became “majority minority” in most areas by the 80s and 90s. Compton hasn’t been much on the national cultural radar lately (other than a period movie set in the late 1980s), but these days it’s actually about 2/3 Latino (possibly due to many Black residents improving their situations and moving to “better” areas like Ladera Heights and Baldwin Hills, or Inglewood (which has a lot of parts that are much better than the city’s reputation); many have even moved up to “the Valley” or OC or even returned to the south into places like the Atlanta suburbs.

    There’s also a very interesting documentary which covers a lot of this period of L.A. history called “Bastards of the Party”; a discussion of 1950s L.A. is done as foundational to the deeper discussion of how the Black Panther Party and some other similar groups were part of the origin of the Crips and other notorious “street gangs” that drew so much attention in the 80s and early 90s.

    1. >>period movie set in the late 1980s

      I am a nightmare walkin’, psychopath talkin’ …

    2. possibly due to many Black residents improving their situations and moving to “better” areas like Ladera Heights and Baldwin Hills, or Inglewood (which has a lot of parts that are much better than the city’s reputation); many have even moved up to “the Valley” or OC or even returned to the south into places like the Atlanta suburbs.

      I believe quite a few moved north into Antelope Valley as well, especially around Palmdale.

    3. “There goes the neighborhood” has always been true. If blacks, Asians, latins or others roll in and change the culture. It happens constantly in lower middle class neighborhoods. It’s human nature.

  9. It was the most predictable result imaginable that all kinds of posters would pop up and whine about having to hear about racism in American history. “Just think about all the progress we’ve made since then! Why should we have to keep hearing about it now?”

    I’ll give you some hints.

    There was ending Reconstruction while the defeated Confederates were still resisting efforts to make real the rights of the freed slaves, often through outright terrorism and murder. There was the rolling back of legal protections that the Union had been trying to impose over white opposition. The failure of the northern Republicans to continue support those of like mind in the South and finish the work that the Civil War started allowed the promise of equality written into the 14th Amendment go only partially fulfilled, at best. Blacks were no longer slaves, but they weren’t allowed political power in the South, and white people in the rest of the country weren’t too keen on giving them true equality either, so segregation settled in for the long haul. It was official policy in the South, but it was a de facto reality in pretty much the whole of the rest of the country.

    Eventually, the tide started to turn, such as when a Missouri Democrat that had long been as prejudiced as you would expect of someone with that background finally saw racism for what it was. He was appalled at the beatings and even murders of Black soldiers that had fought heroically against the Nazis. They were coming home, in their uniforms, and were beaten, mistreated, and even murdered by whites that had not fought for their country. Thus President Harry Truman turned his back on southern racism and desegregated the armed forces, just a few months before the 1948 election, no less. Politics played a roll as well, of course, nor is it likely that he completely abandoned the prejudices of his whole prior life, but it was a big turning point to have a Missouri Democrat be the first President to address the NAACP in 1947 at the Lincoln Memorial.

    The next 20 years would see a great many fights and victories for Black Americans, but yet again, the willingness of white Americans to stand on the correct side of history and sustain those efforts and follow them through to their logical conclusion resulted in more wasted time. The Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and federal court rulings all helped, but the end of the Civil Rights Era still left a lot undone, and the “backlash” of some whites took its toll on efforts to finish the job. (Complaints from suburban white parents about their children being bused from their affluent, white neighborhoods to schools in poor, minority neighborhoods, or that children with darker skin were being bused to their white, affluent schools and “bringing their problems with them” were one example of this. People also forget how many conservative Christian private schools were popping up as schools were being integrated. This was so obviously racist in nature that they got dubbed “segregation academies”. Then there was the “reverse discrimination” of affirmative action policies to complain about.)

    Basically, too many white people that were not racist would still simply lose the patience and motivation to address racial inequality because they had their own problems and concerns about government. They simply didn’t sustain the political will to do the work to help people that weren’t part of their group. Add in a War on Drugs that focused on putting drug dealers in poor (minority-heavy) neighborhoods in jail to existing economic inequality, and it is no wonder that Black and Latino communities have not done much catching up in the last few decades, despite the elimination of explicit discriminatory government policies and the creation of legal remedies for private discrimination.

    The attitude of those that are here whining about all the “woke” people and “cancel culture” is that it is just so unfair that they are being asked to do something about the racism, discrimination, and inequality that still exists. After all, they aren’t discriminating against anyone, so why should they get called racist for not wanting to make any personal sacrifices to correct centuries of injustice? If it was criticism of the effectiveness of specific policies to address inequality and persistent discrimination and racism, that would be respectable. But just look at the first comment being someone complaining about being “fucking tired of hearing” about America’s history of racism.

    The TL;DR response to that attitude and complaint: You might get to stop hearing about America’s history of racism when it is only history and not something that affects the lives of minorities in the present.

    1. JFC, no one is reading that diatribe.
      Therenis more to America than racism. and people are tired of that being the only thing that is “taught” or “reflected” right now.

      FYI, all scholarly studies put the number of “lynchings”, or simple racial murders of blacks, at around 4,000 total between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Era.
      But all current media depictions of the present have people believing that the number was in the thousands per year, just as many people now think the police shoot hundreds or thousand of unarmed black people every year, instead of around a dozen.

      Consider that 4,000 racial murders is about 1/3 of the nursing home deaths in NY in a few months after Cuomo’s readmittance order, and only 2/3 of the number they lied about in the official statistics. Now consider that 4,000 racial murders in over a century is less than the black on black murder total for one city, Chicago, in the last decade, or almost equal to Baltimore in 2 decades, or New Orleans or Memphis in 3 decades, and you begin to wonder if the whole current emphasis on racial horror stories is some sort of a distraction

      1. “Therenis [sic] more to America than racism. and people are tired of that being the only thing that is “taught” or “reflected” right now.”

        It is your perception that it is the “only thing” being “taught” or “reflected”. How much is the right amount of attention to pay to America’s racial history?

        “Consider that 4,000 racial murders is about 1/3 of the nursing home deaths in NY in a few months after Cuomo’s readmittance order, and only 2/3 of the number they lied about in the official statistics.”

        I’ll take Non Sequitur’s for $1000, Alex. “Murders of Blacks by white supremacists is small compared to other measures of death I can cite, regardless of their relevance, so what’s the big deal?”

        “…you begin to wonder if the whole current emphasis on racial horror stories is some sort of a distraction”

        The “black on black” murder you cite is criminal violence endemic to the condition of life in poor, densely populated, urban neighborhoods. It is a serious problem that needs real attention and solutions, but it doesn’t occur because Black people are racist against other Black people, so what is your point? There are many serious problems with society now, but to say that calling attention to racism in the present and past is a “distraction” from other problems that aren’t related is simply your attempt to shift attention.

        “…just as many people now think the police shoot hundreds or thousand of unarmed black people every year, instead of around a dozen.”

        The Washington Post started maintaining a database of fatal police shootings after Michael Brown. Since Jan.1, 2015, 135 unarmed Black people have been fatally shot by police. That’s about 20 per year. Not too far off from your guess, but how many unarmed people should be fatally shot by police every year? By the way, the figure is 165 for unarmed white people fatally shot by police in the same time period. With white people being about 4 times the portion of the population as compared to Black people.

        1. The “black on black” murder you cite is criminal violence endemic to the condition of life in poor, densely populated, urban neighborhoods.

          If that were the case, then we would see similar crime rates among other races in similar conditions. And the statistical evidence shows this is not the case.

          So let’s try it again.

          By the way, the figure is 165 for unarmed white people fatally shot by police in the same time period. With white people being about 4 times the portion of the population as compared to Black people.

          The black violent crime rates are several times those of white people. Blacks are 13% of the US population but commit well over 50% of the murders. Check out FBI Uniform Crime Reports (assuming the DoJ had not taken them down). You might also look at the number of black people who resist arrest or assault police officers, and then compare their rates with those of other races.

          The high black violent crime rates are the reason for the high black incarceration rates, for many of the police killings of blacks, and for white (and brown and Asian) flight.

          Dig it, comrade.

          1. “If that were the case, then we would see similar crime rates among other races in similar conditions. And the statistical evidence shows this is not the case.”

            More details and sources, please.

            “The high black violent crime rates are the reason for the high black incarceration rates, for many of the police killings of blacks, and for white (and brown and Asian) flight.”

            What evidence might dispute this hypothesis of yours? Perhaps if you examine the outcomes of cases based on the race of the person arrested, you’d find out whether race/ethnicity had a correlation with outcomes even after accounting for other factors. What is the percentage of people arrested that end up serving jail time for drug possession, for instance, broken down by race, and controlled for prior criminal history?

            Guess what, people do investigate these kinds of questions.

            “We use regression analysis to consider several factors that may contribute to or explain the substantial disparities we document, including the defendants’ criminal history and demographics, initial charge severity, court jurisdiction, and neighborhood characteristics. The regression analysis indicates that even after accounting for these characteristics, Black and Latinx people are still sentenced to 31 and 25 days longer than their similarly situated White counterparts, suggesting that racial disparities in sentence length cannot solely be explained by the contextual factors that we consider and permeate the entire criminal justice process.”

            Sorry to burst your bubble, but the criminal justice system looks stacked against people of color when you “dig It” and get into the data.

    2. Haha. Yeah. White people are terrible.

      1. “Haha. Yeah. White people are terrible.”

        Yes, thank you. That was exactly my point.

        /sarcasm off

        Of course pointing out that some white people were racist or haven’t done enough to counter those that were is not saying that “White people are terrible.” That is what the (presumably white) people complaining about this want to believe, though. They want to believe that those of us that are willing to talk about these issues and facts of history are calling all white people (them) terrible racists, thus they are the real victims of all of this. It’s racist, even!

        Conservatives have gotten so used to this tactic of claiming victimhood that they don’t recognize when they are using it anymore. Someone says “Happy Holidays” in an effort to be inclusive of those that aren’t Christian, but have their own celebrations that they engage in at the same time of year, instead of saying “Merry Christmas” . That is then part of a “War on Christmas” and an attack on Christians.

        1. You are either young or naïve. Conservatives are more for individual freedom and the responsibility that comes with it. Life is hard and it is competative. Equality is allowing everyone a chance to make a better life for themselves on their own initiatives and choices. Those that take responsibility for themselves and make good choices usually do better then those that don’t regardless of race or color. A Black President, the present VP, Black billionaires and millionaires and large Black middle class proves that. Living in poverty and making bad choices is not a Black problem alone. Whites suffer the same consequences for similar reasons.
          It is a fact that many Blacks do not like how Whites look or act or live. Many Blacks that are middle class or higher prefer to live below their means in Black neighborhoods because they feel more comfortable around people that look and act like them. In major colleges in the US they are demanding separate dorms, classes and even graduations.
          Whites from all over Europe settled in America and assimilated, learning the language and culture and became Americans. American culture has historically been Christian as our Constitution and laws were strongly influenced by. Asking Americans to assimilate to other cultures migrating here that refuse to assimilate is not rational. If someone is offended by American culture and traditions America is not required to change for them. If you moved to another country with a foreign culture and traditions would you expect them to change for you?
          A sure way to get resistance is to tell Americans everything they fought and died for and worked hard to build is all wrong and we are doing everything the wrong way and always have.

          1. “Equality is allowing everyone a chance to make a better life for themselves on their own initiatives and choices. Those that take responsibility for themselves and make good choices usually do better then those that don’t regardless of race or color.”

            Belief in meritocracy can get twisted into an assumption that if someone doesn’t succeed on their own, that they didn’t deserve to succeed. And that those that are successful did deserve it. In something like sports, meritocracy mostly works regardless of inequities because athletes generally need to perform better than others to win, period. Having come from a family that can afford private tennis lessons from age 6 and up is a big advantage, but in the end, the kid still needs to become really good at tennis in order to win matches against increasingly tough competition.

            But in more general life circumstances, a belief that people that are wealthy deserve their wealth because surely they had to work hard for it, and that people that are poor must not have worked hard enough or been smart enough is destructive because it blinds people to the fact that opportunities are not equal, and that is so to an increasing degree. Some people build wealth mostly because they started life wealthy. Most poor people started life poor, and that puts them and their children at a massive disadvantage in terms of future opportunities compared to wealthy families.

            None of that should be the least bit controversial, and acknowledging that this is true does not make someone “socialist”, “Marxist”, or some other form of “lefty”. It is simply an obvious truth. Which of the following would you expect to have the greatest chance to increase their net worth by 10% over the next year, assuming that all of them were equally able and willing to put in the hard work necessary?

            A single father with a HS diploma and no special skills.
            A married couple with two kids, ages 9 and 12. The father works as an electrician, the mother a medical assistant in a cardiologists office.
            A 30 year old, college-educated professional with 5 years at his current company.
            An executive at a Fortune 500 company.
            A paraplegic victim of a drunk driver.

            Do they all have an equal opportunity to make a better life for themselves based on their own initiative and choices?

            1. Do they all have an equal opportunity to make a better life for themselves based on their own initiative and choices?

              The only way you are going to give “equal opportunity” to all these groups is via a massive program of government redistribution of wealth, to be enforced by an even more massive state bureaucracy. A very odd thing for someone to advocate on a supposedly libertarian website.

              1. “The only way you are going to give “equal opportunity” to all these groups is via a massive program of government redistribution of wealth, to be enforced by an even more massive state bureaucracy.”

                dan1650 was talking as if there is equal opportunity in this country, and that the “woke” want to mess that up. I was countering that position and trying to show that it is certainly not the case that equal opportunity exists, when considering statistical averages. If you were rolling dice to see what your background would be, like you were rolling up a D&D character, if you rolled a “white” character, you’d then move to tables that would make it more likely to be born into the middle class or above, to parents with college degrees, to parents that are married, etc. You’d be less likely to be born into a household where the paint on the walls and the water you’d drink would contain unsafe levels of lead or that there would be other environmental hazards that might affect your growth and development.

                dan1650 was essentially arguing that differences in outcomes must be the fault of the people within the different groups, and that external influences and the initial conditions don’t matter.

                You are taking a quite different approach to countering my argument, and you don’t seem to be disputing the existence of unequal opportunity at all, but are simply claiming that doing anything about these inequalities is undesirable, because it would require “massive state bureaucracy” and “massive” wealth redistribution.

                This is the conservative/libertarian position on inequality neatly summarized. Some will deny that inequality is a significant problem, but if they don’t feel like they can make that case, they switch to a stance that claims that trying to do anything about it would be bad, because government is inherently bad. All of this is something that seems like a basic human psychology issue. In the abstract, people will say that they believe in “fairness”, but they mainly want to be treated “fairly” themselves. If the evidence shows that they are receiving advantages that are unfair, they will not want to acknowledge this, as it would imply a moral imperative to give up those advantages or make other sacrifices to even the playing field.

                “A very odd thing for someone to advocate on a supposedly libertarian website.”

                Yeah, all of this is because I am not libertarian. Is that somehow forbidden on this website? Is there a Terms and Conditions I am skipping and ignoring that says that only libertarians and conservatives get to post here? I don’t subscribe to any particular political ideology because doing so tends to make avoiding cognitive biases and motivated reasoning more difficult, in my opinion. I find value in listening and thinking about what people on all sides have to say. That is why I come here and read news and opinions from a variety of sources. I like being challenged in my views, opinions, and what I think I know is fact. I feel that I am doing people a favor by challenging their positions, since you can never sufficiently test your ideas if you limit yourself to echo chambers. I’m not going to be right all the time, maybe not even most of the time. But I’ll be more likely to find out when I have been wrong about something this way.

          2. “Whites from all over Europe settled in America and assimilated, learning the language and culture and became Americans.”

            Yeah, and a lot of the times they would have faced serious backlash if they didn’t “assimilate” to the satisfaction of those already here. I’m old enough to remember being told and telling “Pollack” jokes without any real understanding of how offensive such things are. And I’m pretty sure that Poles and other Eastern Europeans are white. What slurs and racist jokes am I suppressing that made fun of people with funny-sounding last names.

  10. By “racism” do you mean:
    * Institutionally discriminatory policies such as affirmative action?
    * Contracts, grants and other taxpayer supported programs which exclude white people?
    * Student unions and other advocacy campus organizations which blacks can organize for their racial interests, but whites can not?
    * The bogus narratives promoted by the media about white-on-black violence (Jussie Smollett, the Duke U lacrosse case, et alia).
    * The use of capitalized “B” by major news organizations when referring to blacks but small case “w” when referring to white people?
    * The attacks on statues of white historical figures, to include libertarian heroes such as Thomas Jefferson?
    * The numerous urban riots which began in the Civil Rights era with Watts in 1965 and continuing to this day?
    …and let’s not forget…
    * The media smearing white people in dramas such as the ones cited in the article?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.