Jim Crow racism (1870s-1960s) is the sort of racism that was common among White Americans in Jim Crow times. It reached its height in the South in the 1920s with such features as burning crosses, white hoods, lynchings and a liberal use of the n-word.
It is the sort of racism white people have in mind when they say someone is “racist”, when they say, “Racism is dead”. A subtler, less open, less hate-filled colour-blind racism has quietly taken its place since the 1960s.
The main beliefs of Jim Crow racism as summed up by one white Southerner in 1913:
- “Blood will tell.”
- The white race must dominate.
- The Teutonic peoples stand for race purity.
- The negro is inferior and will remain so.
- “This is a white man’s country.”
- No social equality.
- No political equality.
- In matters of civil rights and legal adjustments give the white man, as opposed to the colored man, the benefit of the doubt; and under no circumstances interfere with the prestige of the white man.
- In educational policy let the negro have the crumbs that fall from the white man’s table.
- Let there be such industrial education of the negro as will best fit him to serve the white man.
- Only [white] Southerners understand the negro question.
- Let the [white] South settle the negro question.
- The status of peasantry is all the negro may hope for, if the races are to live together in peace.
- Let the lowest white man count for more than the highest negro.
- The above statements indicate the leadings of Providence.
All utterly respectable stuff: before the 1940s it had the support of not just history and science, but, best of all, religion – as #15 points out. Most white Protestant churches taught that because of the Curse of Ham, God meant for blacks to be at the bottom of society to serve whites. For ever. Whites were merely carrying out God’s will as good Christians.
The fact that blacks rarely rose above the level of servants and field hands proved that they were not capable of much more. Freedom and education only made them worse:
- Black education made them unhappy and unfit for their proper place in society, filling their heads with ideas of holding office or owning property, threatening the peace between the races.
- Black freedom meant they returned to their near-savage, African nature, making them dangerous. As proved by all the arrests of black men listed in the newspaper. Most troubling was the increasing number of white women accusing black men of rape!
Free, educated blacks were unsettling: they did not smile and sing as much as the old slaves did, nor did they act as nicely towards white people.
So for everyone’s sakes, blacks had to be controlled, they had to be kept in their place: by law, by custom and by Klan terror. Otherwise, many whites feared, a race war would break out or, even worse, the white race would be destroyed by race mixing.