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mountain grammy

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Name: Pat
Gender: Female
Hometown: NYC
Home country: America
Current location: Grand Lake, Co.
Member since: Wed Jun 27, 2012, 09:55 AM
Number of posts: 25,503

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American education fails to teach us anything about American history.

We are taught to read and write and it's up to us to learn the rest.

"The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson and published in 2010, is about the great migration of millions of African Americans from the South to the North.


It is a huge story, taking place over great distances, large groups of people and decades of time. And that is perhaps why it is not usually told as a single narrative. Wilkerson uses the journeys of three individuals, from different decades, traveling from different origins to different destinations, to examine this largest of all internal migrations that the country had ever seen.
It was a leaderless movement of people who were tired of endless restrictions on their right to vote, to own and farm their own land; people who were tired of poor education and even poorer futures for their children. Surely, they must have been tired of their own vulnerability to Jim Crow laws that put the distance between the rest of their lives and the end of a rope in the hands of a white man who took offense at a few words spoken to a white woman.

Just as it was a war that ended the slave labor camps, it was another war that allowed so many to escape from what had become a virtual slavery in the South. World War I cut off the flow of immigrant labor from Europe upon which the industrial cities of the North relied. Word trickled down to the sharecroppers and the migrant agricultural workers and the domestics of the South and some of them left behind all they knew for a chance in the new world.

The fact that they would be facing much of the same racism and hate that they were leaving was probably unknown to many. They would at least be living in a place that did not require them to step off a sidewalk to let a white pass by, or to use a designated doorway, stairwell, or water fountain.

Isabel Wilkerson does not ignore the broader historic picture that she is painting:

The disparity in pay, reported without apology in the local papers for all to see, would have far-reaching effects. It would mean that even the most promising of colored people, having received next to nothing in material assets from their slave foreparents, had to labor with the knowledge that they were now being underpaid by more than half, that they were so behind it would be all but impossible to accumulate the assets their white counterparts could, and that they would, by definition, have less to leave succeeding generations than similar white families. Multiplied over the generations, it would mean a wealth deficit between the races that would require a miracle windfall or near asceticism on the part of colored families if they were to have any chance of catching up or amassing anything of value. Otherwise, the chasm would continue, as it did for blacks as a group even into the succeeding century. The layers of accumulated assets built up by the better-paid dominant caste, generation after generation, would factor into a wealth disparity of white Americans having an average net worth ten times that of black Americans by the turn of the twenty-first century, dampening the economic prospects of the children and grandchildren of both Jim Crow and the Great Migration before they were even born.


We will never fix America until we recognize and acknowledge how we got here.
Posted by mountain grammy | Sun Jan 4, 2015, 11:27 PM (49 replies)
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