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Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:28 PM

The mistake of looking at events through today's eyes and not the eyes from the past

I first heard this theory from a career IT Manager on NPR during the Hillary email ordeal. He said, that the mistake we make is to apply what we know and believe today to a time in the past. When Hillary set up her system, most people just trusted IT people to do what was right. Not many knew a lot about systems and security. With each year since, users are much more savvy and aware and have evolved.

Perhaps, this same concept can be applied to the black face costumes from Virginia. Perhaps we are looking at it all through today's lens? Back in the 80's, in my experience, you dressed up for Halloween in any thing you wanted. The more outlandish, shocking the better. I remember Mr T costumes ! I dressed like OJ's dead wife with a blonde wig and blood on my neck. I don't remember any "awareness" of possible racism or hatred. It was just for fun.

Isn't it possible that we have just become more enlightened over time?

JOHN LEWIS' NYT EDITORIAL ABOUT FORGIVING GEORGE WALLACE - 1988
https://www.nytimes.com/1998/09/16/opinion/forgiving-george-wallace.html

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Reply The mistake of looking at events through today's eyes and not the eyes from the past (Original post)
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 OP
WhiskeyGrinder Feb 9 #1
Iggo Feb 9 #2
WhiskeyGrinder Feb 9 #3
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 #10
Iggo Feb 9 #12
mr_lebowski Feb 9 #26
jrthin Feb 9 #15
EffieBlack Feb 9 #34
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 #6
EffieBlack Feb 9 #16
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 #17
EffieBlack Feb 9 #19
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 #25
EffieBlack Feb 9 #31
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 #33
EffieBlack Feb 9 #35
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 #37
theboss Feb 9 #4
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 #7
EffieBlack Feb 9 #18
Docreed2003 Feb 9 #27
Empowerer Feb 9 #5
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 #8
EffieBlack Feb 9 #14
jrthin Feb 9 #20
EffieBlack Feb 9 #13
Garrett78 Feb 9 #9
tonedevil Feb 9 #11
EffieBlack Feb 9 #21
Awsi Dooger Feb 9 #22
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 #30
JCMach1 Feb 9 #23
Dennis Donovan Feb 9 #24
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 #36
EffieBlack Feb 9 #39
UTUSN Feb 9 #28
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 9 #38
shockey80 Feb 9 #29
people Feb 9 #32
Blues Heron Feb 9 #40
lunatica Feb 9 #41

Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:30 PM

1. "Isn't it possible that we have just become more enlightened over time?"

You know who knew blackface and racist costumes and racist actions in general were racist back then? Black people.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:34 PM

2. Everybody knew it was racist and wrong.

Just because they didn't give a shit doesn't mean they didn't know.

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Response to Iggo (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:34 PM

3. Yours is a better point than mine.

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Response to Iggo (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:46 PM

10. If we are just talking halloween costumes totally disagree based on my experience.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #10)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:50 PM

12. I'm talking about the bullshit of claiming ignorance about blackface in the 1980s.

It didn't exist.

(It = Ignorance About Blackface, in case that wasn't clear.)

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Response to Iggo (Reply #12)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:21 PM

26. I think you're 100% incorrect ...

I was there, and I absolutely remember that it had nowhere near the same universal condemnation it does now as being a sign of racist intent ... such that I'm POSITIVE that there were huge swaths of this country that had no clue it was looked at ... in that way ... by anyone else.

Not saying NOBODY thought of it that way, but that a lot of people had no idea it was thought of that way. Esp. not if it was a Halloween costume, dressing up as a famous PoC, out of legit admiration.

I actually think a major turning point ... was Danson, at the Roast of Whoopie, in 1993. That was the Nation's collective 'aha' moment, IMHO.

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Response to Iggo (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:53 PM

15. Well stated! nt

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Response to Iggo (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:40 PM

34. And if they didn't know it, why didn't they do it in public or with their black friends?

BECAUSE THEY KNEW IT WAS RACIST.

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Response to WhiskeyGrinder (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:39 PM

6. I understand. My point is that NO ONE I knew was aware of that. And I grew up

where everyone was very liberal. There was no connection, awareness, zero, zip, nada.

Isn't it possible that both sides evolved since then? Black people found their voice which allowed others to be aware?

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #6)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:56 PM

16. Just because the people you grew up around were apparently clueless doesn't mean that

by the 1980s it wasn't universally understood that blackface was racist.

And, no, this has nothing to do with black people suddenly finding "our voice." We found our voice centuries ago when we first started speaking up against racism. The fact that some people only recently started paying attention is a reflection on their ignorance and bias, not on some new found courage or eloquence on our part.

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Response to EffieBlack (Reply #16)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:59 PM

17. you are missing the point completely.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #17)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:00 PM

19. No, I'm not

I get your point perfectly. I just think you're wrong..

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Response to EffieBlack (Reply #19)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:15 PM

25. So, we agree to disagree. I can't possibly know what you

have experienced nor can you know what I have experienced.

You just shouldn't impose your pov and call mine incorrect. I was there, you were not.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #25)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:33 PM

31. We're not agreeing about a POV. You're alleging a fact that simply isn't true

Regardless your point of view or limited world view at the time, blackface was widely, if not nearly universally regarded as racist in the 1980s. Period.

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Response to EffieBlack (Reply #31)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:38 PM

33. I was expressing my POV. If you don't get that, leave me alone, please.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #33)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:42 PM

35. If you want to be left alone, perhaps you shouldn't post your POV on a public discussion board

and ask for others' opinions?

I mean ... "Isn't it possible that we have just become more enlightened over time?" suggest you want to hear what others think, right?


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Response to EffieBlack (Reply #35)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:56 PM

37. Just by you. Like what would be infinitely more civil would be, In my experience

where I was in the 80's, 90's whatever, it wasn't like the way described life, it was like this....

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:38 PM

4. You should have watched lame sitcoms

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Response to theboss (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:42 PM

7. Quite a difference between what I am talking about and what they are talking about

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Response to theboss (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:59 PM

18. Dick Van Dyke got it in 1965

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Response to EffieBlack (Reply #18)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:21 PM

27. Boom. Thank you Effie!

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:39 PM

5. Even through the eyes of the past - way back in the 1980s - blackface was still racist af

Don't get it twisted.

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Response to Empowerer (Reply #5)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:44 PM

8. I don't even know if we are talking about the same thing. All I am talking about

is when white people tried to imitate a famous black person, like Mr T, and made their face darker. There was no racist motives that I ever noticed.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #8)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:52 PM

14. Impersonating a particular black person by wearing brown makeup to match their skintone isn't racist

Smearing black shoe polish on your face to mock black people in general in the age-old tradition of minstrelsy IS racist.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #8)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:01 PM

20. You may not have notice, but many poc did. If you want to imitate

a famous black person, you don't need to darken your skin. There is an exhibit at the New York Historical Society(ending 3/3/19) titled "Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow." To see the exhibit is to understand why white people in blackface is an insult and a mockery.

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Response to Empowerer (Reply #5)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:50 PM

13. Good Lord - are we actually arguing whether it was common knowledge blackface was racist in the 80s?

Even the Dick Van Dyke Show did an episode in 1965 where Laura and Rob were too embarrassed to go to a racial justice dinner with black dye on their hands because they thought everyone would think they were racists.

Yet 20 years later, a bunch of medical students supposedly didn't know this wasn't ok?

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:45 PM

9. The problem with the "product of their time" argument is...

...that millions of people, including victims and perpetrators, knew at the time that the actions were wrong.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 12:47 PM

11. The Governor of Virginia...

has fucked this up epicly. The yearbooks fiasco should not have come as a surprise announcement from someone other than the Governor. It should have been in the open prior to the election. Making a serious seemingly heartfelt apology one day and walking it back with a stupid story about a different blackface incident hasn't helped his credibility any either. How can he be forgiven if he maintains it wasn't him?

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:02 PM

21. Wait a minute. You actually dressed up like a spousal abuse victim whose husband slit her throat?

That wasn't ok, even in the 1990s (when it happened, not in the 1980s). Not even close, for all kinds of reasons.

Wow. Just wow.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:03 PM

22. I made this point last week

It is almost impossible to place yourself back in time and capture the perspective. Outrage today could have been shrugs and unconcern then. If we went back in time solely for the purpose of warning Northam to stay away from blackface because it could impact his career and brand him a racist, very likely a young Northam laughs and pats us on the back, saying thanks for coming but he knows what he is doing.

One sports example that comes up frequently on football sites is the vastly altered definition of a catch in football. I've seen old videos posted and fans are screaming, "How was that ruled a catch?" It even attached to Lou Holtz, the Notre Dame coach when ESPN showed him a video of a Miami 2-point conversion against Notre Dame from 1988. The receiver had control for perhaps a fraction of a second in the end zone yet it was ruled good. The receiver didn't even look at the official. He started celebrating because he knew he caught the ball by rules and application of that era. Yet Holtz was in disbelief and sat forward in his chair while doubletaking. He was indeed looking at it through 2017 lens and not 1988, when he was on the Irish sideline and didn't complain at all. Nor did the announcers or anyone else.

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Response to Awsi Dooger (Reply #22)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:30 PM

30. Thanks for the calm and reasoned voice! That's an interesting and true

example. Over time, we think we need to know EVERYTHING. Instant news, who is calling us, who is texting us, where someone is, whether a tennis ball hit in our out, who is going to win a state when only a small percentage of the votes are in, how your company's stock price is doing every minute of the day. Lots of things have taken the fun out and can cause undue stress.

Reminds me of a trivia question not too long ago. What minor crime has been virtually eliminated in the last 20 years? Answer: Harassing phone calls.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:05 PM

23. That shit was not acceptable in the deep red South 1980's

I was a college student and teenager then. It seems to have been a racist tradition among elite schools, the wealthy and Greek societies...

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Reply #24)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:43 PM

36. Thank you for passing this on !

In his 20s and 30s, Democrat Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia was a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan, serving as the exalted cyclops of his local chapter. He continued to support the Klan into the 1940s, but Byrd later said joining the Klan was his greatest mistake. He demonstrated what repentance can look like by working with colleagues in Congress to extend the Voting Rights Act in 2006 and backing Barack Obama as his party’s candidate for president in 2008. “Senator Byrd and I stood together on many issues,” wrote Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who nearly died fighting for voting rights in Selma, Ala. In our present moral crisis, we must remember that real repentance is possible — and it looks like working together to build the multiethnic democracy we’ve never yet been.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #36)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 02:03 PM

39. Robert Byrd was in the Klan in the 1940s and elected to Congress in 1959

He wasn't wearing blackface and posing for photos with the KKK in the 1980s - because he knew that was unacceptable by then, as did most people.

As I pointed out before, one sure way to know that going around in blackface was universally condemned in the 1980s is that Northam and people like him didn't dare do it in public or around black people. They only did it around small groups of like-minded people. Because they knew it was wrong and didn't have the nerve to display their bigotry to the world.

And on of the things that's really frustrating about this entire discussion is that we've been drilling down on this for more than a week on DU and numerous people - especially black DUers - have put a lot of time, effort and heart into explaining the history and context of this. Yet we're still being asked "But it wasn't really THAT racist to do it then, was it?"

Why is that difficult for people to understand what we're saying?

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:25 PM

28. Found it: Felix FRANKFURTER quote re: FDR (applies to Pius XII) vs the Holocaust::

​ “Fluctuations of historic judgment are the lot of great men, and Roosevelt will not escape it … But if history has its claim, so has the present. For it has been wisely said that if the judgment of the time must be corrected by that of posterity, it is no less true that the judgment of posterity must be corrected by that of the time.”
- Felix Frankfurter


There's this article with many other embedded links on the same topic:

**********QUOTE*******

https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-frequently-judge-historical-figures-by-the-standards-of-today-rather-than-the-standards-of-that-time
Why do people frequently judge historical figures by the standards of today rather than the standards of that time?


********UNQUOTE********






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Response to UTUSN (Reply #28)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:58 PM

38. Excellent - Thank you

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:26 PM

29. The American people have definitely become more uptight.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 01:37 PM

32. What about the Klan person in the picture????

This photo was not only the black face person, which was awful, but standing next to that person is someone dressed in a KKK get UP???? Who would do that???? I don't believe there is any way to excuse that yearbook page, whether it was from 1900 or 1984 or 2019. IT IS HORRIBLE!!!

This governor is a person who apparently never was made to feel that he was in anyway an "outsider" and has no idea of the pain of that. He still thinks it's kind of funny.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)


Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2019, 02:13 PM

41. It was definitely considered racist.

The only difference was that the actual racists thought it was OK to parade their racism around in the 1980s. In other words, this kind of racism was generally given a pass by white people who weren’t hate filled racists because there was no understanding of how destructive and odious it was.

Examples like blackface were considered a benign form of racism because it was seen as harmless. Just a game. It wasn’t overtly violent like lynchings or beatings and it was considered to be a personal belief which no one could do anything about.

It was essentially the same with misogyny. The prevailing attitude was you can change the laws, but you can’t change people’s hearts so just ignore or distance yourself from racists if you disagree with them.

But as time passed we changed our minds thanks to people who insisted on making us look at the reality of what racism is still doing that is so destructive. Being a racist today doesn’t always mean hating people who aren’t the same color as you are. The fact is it’s far more ingrained in our social makeup in ways that are much more subtle and that we either don’t notice because it doesn’t affect our white privilege or we think there is nothing we can do about it. It’s a fundamental acceptance of “things as they are” as being things that can’t be changed. This is what institutionalized racism is about. A society built around giving every advantage to white people at the expense of everyone else on every social and economic level.

But with the help of people who won’t shut up and “know their place” this is changing. White people should stop trying to whitesplain, should really shut up for a while and should listen to what’s being said. It is required that we evolve and understand that we need to participate in changing things that don’t work for everyone.

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