Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Old Stereotypes

I find it interesting that in the 19th century, blacks used to stereotype whites as incompetent, lazy, unable to do anything for themselves, etc. For example, there was a saying about plantation whites: “It’s a poor dog that won’t wag its own tail.”1 Then, according to one popular story (probably apocryphal), an elderly black man “noted whites coming out of the courthouse, where a meeting had been held. He stopped one of the whites and asked him, ‘Whut you white fokes doin’ in dar? Whut you plottin’ ‘bout now?’ When told they were planning to bring more white people into the South, the black looked very dubious. . . . The white man insisted on knowing why he objected to more white people. ‘Cause we Negroes is got all de white fokes hyeah now dat we kin support!’”2

1 Thomas L. Webber, Deep Like the Rivers: Education in the Slave Quarter Community, 1831-1865 (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1978), pp. 92-93.

2 Leon F. Litwack, Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow (New York: Knopf, 1998), p. 119.


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