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Playing the “Race Card”

March 15, 2021

Americans of African descent imported as slaves have been treated differently than French citizens of African descent from French colonies in Africa. Racial differences in the United States made segregation of the races “easy” as local and state governments drew actual lines of “color” in public schools, transportation and anti-miscegenation laws first introduced in Virginia in the 17th century.  Invisible social lines separated the races socially in Northern cities as effectively as segregation legally separated the races in the southern States that fought to keep their enslaved African American “property.”

“That’s not right” was expressed by white and black Americans as they fought to improve the lot of American blacks. The African American civil rights leader, Rev. Ralph Abernathy was asked by the professional writer, Thomas Landess, who was assisting Rev. Abernathy prepare his autobiography for publication in 1999, “Why, Reverend Abernathy you speak so warmly of growing up in Alabama, when did you become aware that Alabama was racist?” Rev. Abernathy replied, “In college.”

There was some acceptance of some American “blacks” visible in the success of American jazz music and the many successful African Americans in the arts that was enhanced by well-earned skills in singing and acting and the sheer natural, physical, beauty of many black actresses.

The British actor, Michael Caine, a “Cockney,” however, saw similarities in how Cockneys were treated in England and African Americans in the United States. The conflict for Michael Caine was one of class, more than race.

England with its historical roots in monarchy drew rigorous class lines in status, education and pronunciation of the King’s English visible today in the differences between “Oxbridge” educated English such as Christopher Hitchens and persons not so well-educated like Marc Steyn. Educated at the King Edwards School in Birmingham, England, Steyn is a high school “drop out” but on sheer intellectual ability transcended England’s class barriers.

Next in Playing the “Race Card,” Part 2, “Lenin, Black Lives Matter and Race.”

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