If you plant weed in a vegetable garden, a poor harvest will result. The same thing will happen with people. Various types of weed have been planted in the minds of Black people with the larger society, who seemed to have suffered a convenient memory loss, looking forward to a bountiful harvest. However, to understand how things appear in the present, the not too distant past needs to be investigated.
When Black people did not perform in the way whites expected them to, or when they were not readily available, white people would paint themselves Black in order to continue playing those negative stereotypical Black roles.
This poster is taken from the Johnson Catalogue which was circulated all over the country advertising Nigger make up.
White people could now buy Nigger make up or burnt cork to paint their faces Black and then go out to either portray these distorted images of Black people, or to play roles in movies about Black people of which they knew nothing about.
“It is a peculiar, pervasive, twisted kind of connection”, the projection of certain kinds of qualities that are inside the minds of the person who is doing this to another racial group of people.
Take note, for example, of what is taking place in this photo. A white actor on the left is dressed up in burnt cork to look Black, and notice that the role he is playing is the same role that the Black actors were hired to play. This white actor is also portraying a weak Black male placed side by side to the strong white male image.
Later Al Jolson shown here from “Al Jolson and the Jazz singers”, made lots of money with his burnt cork Black face routine, while using real Black actors as background substitutes. He took this concept to a different level by performing in comedy routines that were based on these distorted Black images, since he was now in a position where he could project an image of who Black people were. Again note the exaggerated caricature of the Black person portrayed by Al Jolson.
Black people could not do anything about this state of affairs which eventually developed into something called Minstrelry, which became the most popular form of entertainment in America for 50 years. Soap operas rarely last that long, so why was there such a fascination for 50 years with the distortion of the Black image as the most popular form of entertainment?
Following on from the movies, the radio came into focus next, where for 32 years the most popular programme was the Amos 'n' Andy characters created by two white actors named Freeman Gosden and Charles Corell. After the programme became popular on the radio for 32 years, it was later converted to a TV series. It meant that they now had to find Black actors to play the roles of these invented Black characters that were created by white people.
This Stephen Fetchit character did not exist anywhere on the Afrikan continent, in fact, no one there behaved like Amos 'n' Andy, so the kinds of images being projected were not typical of any Afrikans, but were simply the twisted imaginations of the white mind.
Later, Black actors would begin to get roles, but note what the Black actor on the right now has to do in order to get his role.
He now has to do what the white actors were doing - a caricature of a caricature. In other words, the minstrel is imitating the minstrel in order to get work.
The images of Black females were also similarly distorted. Usually she had to be fat, loud and bossy, an image that has been present for a long time.
This is a scene from one of Shirley Temple’s movies.
Initially these acts were calculated, but over a period of time they no longer had to be calculated because once you are being fed these distorted images while growing up and later become a TV producer, these would be the only images you have to work with. In other words, you are simply drawing on pre-programmed memories, therefore the results of the calculation now exist so that you no longer have to sit down and continue to twist the images because the twisted image has now become the reality for you. For this reason there was a hunger in the minds of many white Americans for the images that they grew up with, such as Stephen Fetchit, Beulah, Vashti and those types of early characters.
So "What was wrong with the real Black image that made white Americans want to avoid it?" It was and still is too powerful to handle for those who are insecure. When you look at the NBA and the NFL there is a preponderance of power images among the Black males, therefore it might not be by accident that those tiny Black males would be found associated with the most popular TV programmes like Different Strokes. When you delve into the history of Black people, it is so powerful that it definitely could not be handled by a population that had been trained to believe otherwise.
What is it about the Black man, woman and child that makes white people everywhere want to control their development? There are about 38 million Black people in the United States of America making them the largest visible "minority group" in the country. With unity and power, this could create competition, and if the Afrikan continent is added, there would be an additional hundred million people with wealth and resources that when awakened, would be a formidable force to be reckoned with in everything that takes place globally. Naturally, people fear competition, especially those who are familiar with the history of the role that Black people had once played on the world stage.
However, during the time of slavery there was a point of view where the Black Man was considered to be inferior and laws were instituted to forbid him from reading, which should have prompted the question, “what was so inferior about the Afrikan?” These principles were deliberately designed as can be seen by referring to the psycho-dynamics mentioned earlier; that is, the suppression of memory and identity.
The computer can be used as an analogy to illustrate what is meant by the suppression of memory, where the contents of the Afrikan mind are emptied thereby deleting the natural memories either through segregation, forcible removal, or waiting patiently for the generation to die out so that the children can then easily receive and accept without question the new programme without having any knowledge of the old, original memories.
With this new programme in place, the children will behave inappropriately as can be seen in a number of today’s children, because as a group, the initiative was not taken to determine the source of these supplied programmes before ensuring that our children had access to them, or even to sufficiently question the nature of the programme. As a result the chance to rescue ourselves may have been lost.
There was some concern about what Black children were being taught as most Black parents had only one goal in mind which was, "I want my child to get a good education", without first appreciating what “good” is.
Ron McNair, the astronaut who died on the Challenger launch pad received what can be termed a good education. He got a technical education which made him one of the most brilliant laser physicists in the world.
That would explain what he was trying to accomplish up there in the capsule which was a physics experiment, but he never once forgot who he was or where he came from. For example, one of his hobbies was Jazz music, and he also played in a Jazz band.
Besides also being a fourth degree Black belt karate expert, he was also active in community service because of the sense of responsibility and obligation he felt towards his people. This is a model for someone who wants to receive a good education.
A person like Ron McNair who took his learning and knowledge of physics and used it for the benefit of Black people would be showing a sense of social responsibility, as would any group of sane people do for itself.
On the other hand there may be someone who becomes a laser physicist but does not have that same sense of social responsibility to his community, or who even rejects his own cultural standards and decides that in order to be a physicist means that he has to adopt the western European culture and values. This would be a mis-educated Black person, and there are many with this type of mentality around.
Here are some products that were popular back in the early days.
Nigger Hair Tobacco.
Nigger Hair Tobacco was a product that you could go into a store and buy. Again to show the pervasive manipulation of the images of Black people, look at the huge ring in this woman’s nose. On this occasion it is attacking the image of the Black woman.
Nigger Head Tees.Imagine you are getting ready to go and play golf so you decide to stop at the pro shop to pick up some tees. Again look at the Sambo image of the Black male on the golf tee box.
Nigger Blues.In the music store you could pick up a piece of sheet music. Again notice the distortion of the image of the Black person.
Darkie Toothpaste.Darkie Toothpaste was sold by the Colgate Palmolive Company in Asia. Look at the article published in the Atlanta Constitution on February 17th 1986 which talked about the sale of Darkie Toothpaste in the Far East.
They made it clear that this product would continue to be sold since they do not have Black people in the Far East to object to it, neither does it have the same meaning to the people living there. So here again even in 1986, the projection of these same darkie images were prevalent.
These are some postcards that were regularly sent through the United States mail service. Imagine a group of people who are at the bottom of the ladder and need strength, so they turn to their culture for positive messages only to find these types of publications.
In this left image the card is entitled "A coon tree is a possum".
Black people were referred to as coons, (short for raccoon). On the right is an image of a card entitled "In Dixie land" which is making fun of the Black Woolly Hair.
In the image on the left below, a young girl is teaching her grandfather to read, but from this artist’s perspective the postcard is being projected in a negative way instead of treating it in a positive light.
In the upper right hand corner is printed "grandpa's embarrassment".
One can see the play on the stereotypical sexuality of the Black female which is being projected on the card on the right which has the quote, "gee I wish I could find me some!"
When all this is put into context with the stereotype of the Black female as just lusting after males, then it will justify raping her and attacks on her person. Over time it will be realized that these were not just innocent matters. On the other hand everyone knows that it was the white slave owners who were the perpetrators of lust and certainly not the Blacks. So here again you have this twisting, denial of reality, perceptual distortion, delusions of greatness and projection of blame. In other words, this represents a whole set of syndromes that can only be regarded as a mental illness syndrome which is characteristic of racist behaviour.
Here are other popular images that were designed to attack the Black image.
Ten Little Niggers was a text book that was used in schools in 1896. The images were and still are everywhere, but no other group of people in history has ever had this happen to them.
Never in the history of humankind can you document another period of time where one group was targeted with so many of these different kinds of assaults on the self-image of another group.
The image on the right shows little Black boys are being taught what they are supposed to do when they grow up; that is, to shine little white boys' shoes.
On the left is the movie actress, Josephine Bailey as she actually looked, but on the right is what she had to do in order to get jobs. She had to dress up like a minstrel and then play those parts that were invented by white people for Black people. There is a lot of damage that is done through these images, but people simply shrug their shoulders and ask, "What harm is that going to do?"
But other people would not do this to their children because it would cause a lot of harm. If there were these types of comedy shows in the white community, other material would also be available to create some sort of a counter balance.
The Jewish people do not go running around making fun of the holocaust or encouraging anyone to wear the prison uniforms that they used to wear just for the fun of it. There is nothing funny about that, so why is it that the pain of Black people should be seen as funny to them and to others?
This is an article taken from a magazine that asked the question, "Does TV have a secret formula for Blacks?" Look at who they are referring to here, George Jefferson and his wife. This was probably not one of the best shows on TV in terms of Black image as it was an assault on the Black image of the middle class. Here is a man who is supposed to be at the top, but is given a little dinky apartment in New York along with a couple cleaning establishments, while acting like a total clown. This was what the Black middle class image in the eyes of the secret formula creators looked like. “How is it possible to obtain several cleaning establishments while you are behaving like a clown?” It would take a very intelligent person to accomplish that, but the writers never projected an image of Jefferson as a smart, responsible person.
*These are some of the prime time TV writers for Black people*
The secret formula question raises a discussion that is very important in television. The people who write the stories and create the shows on most prime time TV for Black people are usually not Black people.
Our Black needs were not being met through these portrayals, but their needs were met by repeating those images of degraded Black people. Those were the types of images these writers thought were funny when they saw The Jeffersons.
Those negative images would have an effect on the children especially, since they would be deeply imbedded in their minds. In the Black community there was practically nothing of a positive nature to turn to on the television until the arrival of The Cosby Show, at which point Black people began to have some measure of control over the Black images on TV as Rafael Toussaint and Bill Cosby had a good degree of editorial control over the show.
Until The Cosby Show came along, the only effective father for a Black child on TV was a white father, as for example in the popular show Different Strokes. Here little Arnold, who is adopted, has a white father, and this was the type of image that was supposed to be the positive male image for the Black child. Look at the subliminal message that was constantly being sent out to the whole Black community at this time.
Below is an image from another show Flip Wilson which became very popular and only lasted as long as he would dress up as Geraldine and become bizarre, but these were the types of images that the white writers delighted in.
Left to right: Flip Wilson: Globe Trotters: Sanford and Son: and J.J. Walker - Good Times.
Notice how happy they all appeared. Now go back to Stephen Fetchit and take note of any differences from among those images of the 70's and 80's that were still being presented. The point is, these images were not innocent, because if you go back in history you will realize that if people are allowed to twist the images of any group or population, it then becomes easy to manipulate other dominant populations to do negative things as was the case during the height of the Ku Klux Klan era.
It can be seen from the following pictures that the propaganda images were very serious issues indeed based on the burnings and lynching which followed and became very rampant.
Here is an example of Celebrity Dolls which Black children were picking up as a result of those TV shows just mentioned and notice the Fred Sanford and J.J dolls. In other words, children were taking these images from the television and turning them into their own real life images.
The question that could have been asked about television was, "What are our children doing?" The answer is, they are learning while laughing, but what are the lessons they are supposed to be learning?
There are some people like Dan Shore who spent their time researching academic analysis of the media and its messages, who gave a warning in his article on the left, that even in the news the messages may be conflicting so one has to be careful. This would apply to everyone and not just to Blacks alone.
Others authors have written books on this very subject, which focuses mainly on the TV media.
Subliminal Seduction is a case in point where on the cover of the book the word SEX is written in the ice cubes on the glass which looks like shadows, so that it is not received directly, but subliminally. Those in the field must have known about 20 years or more ago how people could easily be manipulated, that it prompted them to move in the direction of flashing certain information as subliminal images on the screen just fast enough to be picked up not with the eyes but by the brain, so that you get the message without realizing where it came from or even that it was received. Subliminal messages can be more powerful at times than the actual direct message because people are not aware that it is being fed into their brains.
Therefore, if someone has the means to consciously manipulate images with a history of having intentionally done so, it means that a whole generation must be educated about this aftermath. It is crucial that the people who are being victimized by this activity the most should become critical observers. This can be done once they are made aware of it because the mind cannot easily be programmed if you are aware that someone is trying to programme it.
Now look at some of the contrasting images for white males then try to imagine anything by way of comparison for the Black male. Look at Gary Cooper and Marlon Brandon. There was no Gary Cooper or Marlon Brandon that was popular among Black people.
There is even a white female Tarzan named Sheena, so with the advent of women's liberation, white women could now go over to Afrika and do to the Afrikans what Tarzan used to do.
In the picture on the right is the summation again of this whole section, “Are Black Children Using Only Half a Brain?” Notice the gaze at the superman image. That is the kind of projection that was being used for the other populations, while at the same time a degraded image of Black people was being projected. In other words, a young Black child who has not come from the old world will not have anything positive to feed on to nourish and educate his mind, so it becomes necessary to produce this type of information for dissemination, which attempts to show the corrected version of the history of Afrika and Black people in general.
The Afrikan survivors of the Middle Passage were subjected to one of the most brutal forms of oppression and exploitation in human history. They were forced to adopt foreign cultures after being uprooted from their homeland and stripped of their culture, languages, traditions and history. As a result, unlike other immigrants, they do not know their original names, tribes, cultures, languages or even religions. They were whipped, maimed, raped, murdered, completely dehumanized and reduced to chattel property to be bought and sold like animals.
The Afrikans were subjected to a new phase of subjugation, - Jim Crow, - after the end of slavery, where every aspect of life became segregated including the restaurants, schools, hospitals, transportation, sports, recreation, prisons, orphanages, funeral homes, morgues and even the cemeteries.
The myth of white supremacy and black inferiority were instituted to justify slavery and the Jim Crow laws.
Lynching soon became a common place practice against Blacks, such that between 1882 and 1968 about 4,742 Afrikans in America were brutally lynched, hanged, castrated, burnt alive and decapitated. The lynch mobs acted not only with impunity but also with a form of demented pleasure, referring to the burning of Afrikans as “Negro Barbecues”. The perpetrators brought their family and friends to watch “The Show”, and took great pleasure in photographing the happenings as if attending some major sporting event. The photographs were usually used to create postcards.
While all these atrocities were going on, the federal government stood idly by and allowed these vicious acts to continue for many years.
© John Moore - Barbados, W.I. (March 2000) ©. All rights reserved.