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Alias_Avi View Drop Down
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    Posted: Jul 17 2013 at 11:37am
Originally posted by <a href=http://abagond.wordpress.com/author/abagond/ target=_blank rel=nofollow>abagond</a> abagond wrote:


The Nadir of American race relations

Tue 16 Jul 2013

The Nadir of American race relations (c. 1890 – c. 1940) was when racism got worse among White Americans after blacks were freed as slaves. This affected not just blacks in America but people of colour everywhere White Americans exercised power. Racism against one made racism against all easier and more likely.

Some features:

  • Jim Crow
  • The Klan
  • lynching
  • racial segregation: black ghettos, sundown towns, Indian reservations, etc.
  • racial segregation as “natural”.
  • scientific racism
  • Social Darwinism
  • forced sterilization
  • blacks kicked out of Major League Baseball, the Kentucky Derby, the National Football League.
  • Japanese American internment
  • Mass deportation of Mexican Americans in the 1930s
  • Loss of the black vote
  • Southern white racist ideas of history:
    • John Brown as a madman
    • Lincoln as fighting to save the Union, not to free the slaves
    • Reconstruction as black and Northern white misrule
  • Indian boarding schools
  • Black Brute stereotype
  • Ideas about intelligence as hereditary, fixed, measurable by IQ tests and different by race
  • white man’s burden (white imperialism)
  • The Nadir itself as unnamed and unseen.

Back in the 1850s abolitionists had persuaded most white Northerners that slavery was wrong. In the early 1860s they fought and died in the Civil War to free the slaves. President Lincoln made that crystal clear in the Gettysburg Address. That generation of white Northerners was anti-racist enough to:

  • pass and uphold laws that gave blacks equal rights,
  • overturn state laws against mixed-race marriage,
  • play professional sports with blacks,
  • allow blacks into their neighbourhoods and schools,
  • set up black schools in the South.

By the 1890s those whites were mostly dead and gone.

Meanwhile:

  • gold was to be had by taking Native American land;
  • white votes were to be had by giving immigrant whites advantages over blacks;
  • brown countries were to be had for the taking, like Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

In short, power and wealth were to be had by not respecting the rights of people of colour. Racism excused these actions, which led in turn to more racist actions, which led to more racism and so on in a downward racist spiral.

What broke the spiral? Hitler. He took Nadir racism to its logical, terrible conclusions. He wiped out millions of Jews. By that time in America Jews were already white enough for that to seem shocking.

The weakening of Nadir racism was helped by:

  • the breakup of French and British colonial empires,
  • the Cold War, where America positioned itself as a champion of democracy,
  • Truman desegregating the army,
  • the Supreme Court desegregating schools,
  • blacks getting the vote back.

This created an upward anti-racist spiral.

A new nadir? I first heard about the Nadir – the idea of it but not the name – in the 1980s when some were saying President Reagan was sending America into a new racist nadir. Events since then seem to bear that out:

Source: mostly James W. Loewen, “Teaching What Really Happened” (2010). 

See also:




Think about all the movies that have been made as of recently...

The Blind Side, The Help, Django, The Lone Ranger, 12 Years a Slave, Lincoln, The Butler, The Purge, Beasts of the Southern Wild, etc...

Obviously, race relations is once again heating up but what will be the climax of race relations in the 21st century?


Edited by Alias_Avi - Jul 17 2013 at 11:38am
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morenaloca View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote morenaloca Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 17 2013 at 12:12pm
I clicked on one of the links and now I'm reading all the posts on the site. Very good Thumbs Up
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Cocoa View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Cocoa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 17 2013 at 12:19pm
I dont get what you are saying about the movies you listed... please explain
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kfoxx1998 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kfoxx1998 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 17 2013 at 3:43pm
To a certain extent yes but it has always been the part of the iceberg that remains under water.   Reagan was a really long time ago but for some reason he gets credit for more than all those before him or since to advance racism.   Those who founded the Tea Party realized that a new tactic was needed because of those white assholes who had the nerve to vote black Shocked but a strong, continued tactic has always existed, quietly, consistently. 

These types of movies are not new and in fact I think they are more a celebration of "look, no more racism".  

The same could be said of movies like Amistad but apparently America is more racist than ever.  I do hope we are on a new path but IDK. 
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Ladybird0724 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Ladybird0724 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 17 2013 at 3:55pm
i don't really agree about "12 yrs a slave"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote OoDles O Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 17 2013 at 4:32pm
Lies My Teacher Told Me is one of my favorite books. I like how he challenges people to think about History like an investigative reporter and not just consume anybodies historical record as unadulterated truth.

The First Nadir was in short a response to African American progression right. Poor Southern Whites felt like Newly freed blacks were competition so... the Velocity of a culture of "Whiteness" Sprung to action in an attempt to assert authority over freedmen. Being that their wasn't an obvious Hierarchy like it was during slavery...this supremacy was felt from the local level to the federal level.

I do believe that there is a newer nadir developing. I don't think its extreme as the years following the Antebellum, but with white people slowly becoming a minority in the future, again, theres an attempt to assert racial dominance and superiority... But the difference is that the prevailing overall social zeitgeist has evolved, there are way to many intersecting elements to consider, and Black people are in a better position to not only respond legislatively but financially aswell.

but only time will tell. 


Edited by OoDles O - Jul 17 2013 at 4:35pm
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