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Black History Month: What ever happened to those white folks from those old photos?

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Malyse

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Sep 19, 2010
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A few months ago from this day of publishing, I had an interesting discussion with a white guy at work. The subject of riots came up. Pretty much, he attempted to place a mass association of ”riots" to Black Lives Matter protesters. Fascinated with his thoughts (which severely lacked critical thinking), I throw him a critical thinking question:
”Do you think that Black Live Matter protesters, command riots?"
I had to repeat the question because he was in total shock, as if he walked from a train wreck, because he didn't expect to engage in critical thinking.

He answered no, which was smart; they do not command riots to occur. It's a bit stupid to suggest such. While he did concede the point that BLM do not command riots, he pointed out that the riot association is strong because that's all the data the media supplies him (you don't think that's without intent?) and still, overall, if the protests were PEACEFUL then change would occur. I pointed out that there's numerous peaceful protests, they occur all the time. I as a street photographer (and freelance journalist) have been to many, and can literally report on a lot of knowledge. I mentioned one 60 miles from our location that happened months prior. I also mention what the media does when they are peaceful protests and vigils — they leave without reporting. Still, he was unmoved, because to him credentialed media > freelance journalism. So okay.
”Peaceful? You mean like Colin Kaepernick?”
Once again I saw this white fellow, robbed of breath, beginning to realize what type of corner he walked himself into. He, a regular white-American male, hates Colin Kaepernick. He really despises Colin Kaepernick. He hates his PEACEFUL protest. It's really baffling, because he also mentioned MLK which made things even more hilariously awkward.
”Do you think that all whites, or the majority of white people, were behind MLK off of one speech?"
At this point, with the strength of his disdain for Colin Kaepernick and his peaceful protest, I had finalize the convo — I told him that technically, if this August 1963, he would have been the regular white guy who hated, loathed Martin Luther King. I was compelled to tell the fellow that white people, were NOT all on board when Martin Luther King arrived on the scene. I had to tell him that he in his white self, technically, was the stat quo and his feelings of Kaepernick and MLK would be congruent.
”The truth is, you would have been one of the ones completely antagonistic to those protesters back then buddy."
Being that I linked him (and for the most part, most of White America) to those angry, white supremacy defending whites in all the old Civil Rights photographs, I began wondering, where in the hell did they all go? What ever happened to them?

I began collecting more of these photos. Being a modern day street photographer essentially crating digging older street photographs made me realize that I'm a part of an old, long lasting American tradition — free press. The task made me feel like I'm discovering my roots as a professional. All those photos. All those faces.

The faces were the same faces we see modern day. All those angry, yelling, vulgar faces. What ever happened to them? When the Civil Rights Act was placed into law, did all these people just vanished? Did they all out of nowhere, realize that they were wrong, and we were right, and stopped the racist thoughts and ideologies?

I highly doubt that the white faces in the first Civil Rights Era just automatically let go of their racist ideologies. Those people only accepted the Civil Rights social change with contempt and learned how to BEHAVE when laws changed. These old racist white supremacists, similar to insurgents after the collapse of the Iraqi Army in 2003, only laid low, kept their racist ideologies and waited. During this wait, there was a refinement of white supremacy. White supremacy — racism in America — had to adapt, and it did.

While the fellow did not get indignant and rant and rave (probably because he knew facts were on my side), many white men would do just that. While there's very few white folks today that would boldly state ”keep America white" or something, similar to this photo on the left, the facial expression is still the same. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen that same face in white men when I speak on white supremacy.

Instead of bluntly proclaiming the defense of white supremacy, white men nowaday seek to finesse the same ideological points. Similar to placing an assassin in a dress, these white men seek to soften up the image of white supremacist ideologies.

Being that white supremacists always preferred hoods and masks, nothing really has changed. Instead of preferring white hoods, they now prefer white lies. The white, Ku Klux Klan hood, while still existing in reality, has long been abandoned for a metaphorical one; double-speak, coded language, deflections and transference in discussion. The empty claims of colorblindness while still acknowledging and observing color differences. The tone policing. The clinging relationship to ancient symbolic relics of a racist past, all while denying racism modern day. This blatant dishonesty towards the state of nonwhites in America, serves as a new and improved white hood or mask to shield responsibility and accountability of the State of race relations. The common German is more accountable and observant of their collective crimes against Jews than the white American is towards their crimes against black and native peoples.

This is what happened: When the Civil Rights laws passed, all these racist whites from these photos (and those who were never photographed, which is numbered to be far more) just sat back and never talked about it. They decided then and there to take their sins silently to their graves, all while letting their grand children lie or play stupid, pretend it never took place. I did it myself; wondered where my dad was in 1963. 1965. 1970. It's a shock if white people never thought to think about where their parents were during all of this. Much like racism itself, I'm sure these whites NEVER talked about it. Never brought it up. I said it before... while we as black people are trying to discover our ancestors, white people are stuck trying to forget and bury their klancestors. Sure there are a few white folks from this old era, telling their racist stories on their death beds. Trying to make amends, looking for that forgiveness bug that makes the black community so (in)famous.

For the most part, the majority went to hell hating people because of their skin color, which will be the same destination for modern day whites who share the same congruent disdain for a mass of people fighting for their humanity. As far as these old photos go, nothing has changed. Tomi Lahren for example, practically gets paid to be the yelling angry white lady in the article's face photograph. White people will continue to attempt to silence abolitionists like myself. Unfortunately for them, I'm not going anywhere.


Do you think MLK changed this white man's bigoted social ideology? Any of them?


How many whites you know who would love to do this to any random black protester?
(Note: the men in this picture are helping a victim, not taking pleasure in the violence. The point of the picture is the ridiculous violence aimed toward black protestors)


Look at all of the white people in defense of white supremacy back then. This is a metaphor for what happens to ”SJWs" on social (and conservative) media. Nothing has changed.


Do you really think this young white male all of a sudden began loving MLK?


Couldn't all these white people be, technically, considered accessories to murder? Look at their faces.

https://afrosapiophile.com/2017/02/21/same-old-bigots/

Happy Black History Month.
 

andthebeatgoeson

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Jun 7, 2004
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Those photos are a big indictment. Look at them smiling. The dude in the back with a couple of teeth? The dude with the army shirt on?


Just look at the smiles.
 

BigDes

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Jan 22, 2012
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I wonder if the people in these photos ever tried to get their faces blurred.

Or if they were proud of being the poster children of moronic hate.
 
T

Transhuman

Unconfirmed Member

Couldn’t all these white people be, technically, considered accessories to murder? Look at their faces.

You left out the most fuck up part though.

When the Civil Rights laws passed, all these racist whites from these photos (and those who were never photographed, which is numbered to be far more) just sat back and never talked about it. They decided then and there to take their sins silently to their graves, all while letting their grand children lie or play stupid, pretend it never took place.
 

Zaph

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They most likely went on to live happy and fulfilling lives.

And that's why "reverse racism" doesn't exist, or why a black person can say racist things without there being white racism. Only one demographic gets away with (and still does) these heinous acts without guaranteed, severe social and judicial repercussions.
 

Parallax

best seen in the classic "Shadow of the Beast"
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im glad i havent had to deal with people try to use mlk as a shield in a while. cats can get real bold about that shit
 
Nov 18, 2014
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Well that made me nauseous, which is a good sign. This type of shit is still just barely below the surface.

Rereading James Baldwin this month and one line from an essay in Notes of a Native Son was like a dagger in the gut. Something along the lines of people are so hesitant to give up hate because the next thing they will feel is an immense pain.

Looking at these photos, I can see that. It's much easier to just be on the "winning" side, suppress that pain because when that pain hits...it's brutal. Imagine any of these individuals having to actually confront their hate and what it means? They would be broken.
 

PillarEN

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Those photos are a big indictment. Look at them smiling. The dude in the back with a couple of teeth? The dude with the army shirt on?


Just look at the smiles.

The photo is hard to read. I'm not sure if those two are pulling the man away. The guy on the right seems saddened and the US Army shirt guy seems to have a handkerchief as if he was wiping away the mans blood. I think the caption for that photo implies that people not in the picture beat him up.
 

Alienous

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This reminds me of the late comedian Patrice O'Neal's thesis on why so much racial animosity still exists, using the analogy of the Holocaust. Nazis and their collaborators were hunted down and put on trial. But he'd look at photos of racist crimes where the perpetrators would have just blended back into society and raised families. So where does all that hatred go? It couldn't have just disappeared was the assertion, and so it's unsettling to think about where it went and still is.
 

Ghost Rider

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When I teach my students about this era I show them the pics of people bringing their families to the lynchings for picnics. They are shocked to see kids eating sandwiches and playing next to burning bodies.

They often ask me why would people bring kids to something like this. I tell them the answer is easy and the same as it is today.

To normalize it.
 
Nov 18, 2014
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When I teach my students about this era I show them the pics of people bringing their families to the lynchings for picnics. They are shocked to see kids eating sandwiches and playing next to burning bodies.

They often ask me why would people bring kids to something like this. I tell them the answer is easy and the same as it is today.

To normalize it.

How old are your students?
 

theWB27

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The photo is hard to read. I'm not sure if those two are pulling the man away. The guy on the right seems saddened and the US Army shirt guy seems to have a handkerchief as if he was wiping away the mans blood. I think the caption for that photo implies that people not in the picture beat him up.

Really something to make light of?
 

PillarEN

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Really something to make light of?

No. On the contrary.

While those are quite valid observations, the picture of the two white dudes, of of them with an army shirt, carrying the beaten up black shirt, depicts something quite different from the text, as the atlantic puts it



which goes a long way towards explaining why their hands arent bloodied and why the dude on the right looks so distraught.
 

Fuchsdh

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I thought someone was actually going to track down some of those people and interview them now, instead of using it as a rhetorical device.
 

BriGuy

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Horrible photos. I'd like to believe that we've come a long way since then, but recent events suggest we not only have a hell of a long way to go, but have actually taken steps backwards.
 

Coriolanus

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While those are quite valid observations, the picture of the two white dudes, of of them with an army shirt, carrying the beaten up black shirt, depicts something quite different from the text, as the atlantic puts it

The Atlantic said:
Two youths help a man to his feet after he was badly beaten in street fighting which marked race riots in Detroit, Michigan, on June 21, 1943.

which goes a long way towards explaining why their hands arent bloodied and why the dude on the right looks so distraught.
 

Banana Aeon

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Racism will never be defeated without action. "Moderates" really need to stop pretending that racism is just a difference in opinion.
 

The Salt Life

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FYI These two guys are actually helping him.

I'd love to see your work man. I'm a photographer as well.
Not sure if sarcasm, probably sarcasm, don't know why that guy would be cheezing for the camera. I see the rag in the other guys hand, If he is helping him he is doing a shitty job of it. Probably just ripped cloth from the victims clothes (or I could be completely wrong)
 
Oct 29, 2014
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And to think, this happened decades ago. DECADES. That and the fact that these racist fucks just slinked back into the darkness and passed down their hateful ways to their children and so on. Just completely disgusting all around.
 

Seesaw15

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The photo is hard to
read. I'm not sure if those two are pulling the man away. The guy on the right seems saddened and the US Army shirt guy seems to have a handkerchief as if he was wiping away the mans blood. I think the caption for that photo implies that people not in the picture beat him up.

Yeah that photo gets misinterpreted a lot apparently. Here's another picture of the two guys helping him up during the Detroit race riot of 1943.

 

BigDes

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Jan 22, 2012
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Racism will never be defeated without action. "Moderates" really need to stop pretending that racism is just a difference in opinion.

They won't though. They'll spend ages decrying the punching of a nazi, but be oddly silent about the awful shit he spews on a daily basis.

Peace and quiet is always much better than justice.
 

Gattsu25

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FYI These two guys are actually helping him.

I'd love to see your work man. I'm a photographer as well.

https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2015/01/detroit-in-the-1940s/384523/#img20
Two youths help a man to his feet after he was badly beaten in street fighting which marked race riots in Detroit, Michigan, on June 21, 1943.

I've never seen that picture before. What happened to that man is horrible. That said, it does look like the two white men in that image are helping him.
 

Kreed

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Jul 22, 2006
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Being that I linked him (and for the most part, most of White America) to those angry, white supremacy defending whites in all the old Civil Rights photographs, I began wondering, where in the hell did they all go? What ever happened to them?

I began collecting more of these photos. Being a modern day street photographer essentially crating digging older street photographs made me realize that I’m a part of an old, long lasting American tradition — free press. The task made me feel like I’m discovering my roots as a professional. All those photos. All those faces.

The faces were the same faces we see modern day. All those angry, yelling, vulgar faces. What ever happened to them? When the Civil Rights Act was placed into law, did all these people just vanished? Did they all out of nowhere, realize that they were wrong, and we were right, and stopped the racist thoughts and ideologies?

I'm a little disappointed the writer didn't actually try to find some of the people in these photos.
 
Aug 24, 2009
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Not sure if sarcasm, probably sarcasm, don't know why that guy would be cheezing for the camera. I see the rag in the other guys hand, If he is helping him he is doing a shitty job of it. Probably just ripped cloth from the victims clothes (or I could be completely wrong)


You are completely wrong. The article in the Atlantic article linked above says that they were helping the guy after a race riot in Detroit. Let's not slander two people who were helping out. That smile was a forced one or caught midway in an expression change.
 

The Albatross

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How many whites you know who would love to do this to any random black protester?

OP I agree with the sentiments of your post, but this photo is often misattributed. Just want to point out that the two people in this photo were helping the man who had his face smashed in. This photo was taken shortly after as they're protecting him trying to get out of the area:



Not sure if sarcasm, probably sarcasm, don't know why that guy would be cheezing for the camera. I see the rag in the other guys hand, If he is helping him he is doing a shitty job of it. Probably just ripped cloth from the victims clothes (or I could be completely wrong)

He's definitely not cheesing for the camera... If you blow up the larger version of the photo, he's grimmacing trying to lift up the battered man.
 

Somnid

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I was expecting some journalism where someone actually tracked down and talked to people in those photographs, because that is a interesting idea. Instead I got some rando's arm chair theory. Not to say it's wrong but I feel a bit clickbaited.
 

Beelzeboss

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It just drives me crazy to think about it. These people killed and just went back to their families like nothing happened. They had kids and then grand kids and probably passed on all their insane beliefs and we're still dealing with all that bullshit even today.

It's scary to think about what's been going on in the shadows of America the last 50 years. These people never went away they just stopped making it public.
 

Malyse

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I was expecting some journalism where someone actually tracked down and talked to people in those photographs, because that is a interesting idea. Instead I got some rando's arm chair theory. Not to say it's wrong but I feel a bit clickbaited.

arm chair theory?

k.
 

Ghost Rider

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Wow, I'm impressed you're able to share that with such relatively young students and not have parents up in arms.

The pictures are so old that they're impossible to make out any detail and of course I notify all parents before hand. I have been teaching for 16 years and make sure I approach sensitive issues with due diligence.
 

Aaronology

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Look at all of the white people in defense of white supremacy back then. This is a metaphor for what happens to ”SJWs" on social (and conservative) media. Nothing has changed.

I don't suspect most people change much fundamentally over a lifetime. It's a little harrowing to know that all the people we see in photos smiling under corpses went back to their normal lives, went back to their jobs (policemen, politicians, teachers) and went back to voting and affecting the country.

On the other hand, the white woman in the middle of this photo of a sit-in is Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. I've met her, and she is without a doubt one of the most badass and admirable Civil Rights activists from that era.

She started sitting in @18

Arrested @19 as a Freedom Rider in Mississippi:

The same year she left Duke and transferred to a historically black college in the South. This is 1961 we're talking, to add emphasis.


And here she is, still at it at 75:


And now think of all the people her age who were pouring coffee on her head 50+ years ago who went out to vote for Trump and will do so again in 2020. We aren't going to reach these people by trying to have conversations with them. "What ever happened to those white folks from those old photos?" Take a glance at polling stations every two years. That's where they are.
 

Messofanego

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I don't suspect most people change much fundamentally over a lifetime. It's a little harrowing to know that all the people we see in photos smiling under corpses went back to their normal lives, went back to their jobs (policemen, politicians, teachers) and went back to voting and affecting the country.

On the other hand, the white woman in the middle of this photo of a sit-in is Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. I've met her, and she is without a doubt one of the most badass and admirable Civil Rights activists from that era.

She started sitting in @18


Arrested @19 as a Freedom Rider in Mississippi:


The same year she left Duke and transferred to a historically black college in the South. This is 1961 we're talking, to add emphasis.



And here she is, still at it at 75:



And now think of all the people her age who were pouring coffee on her head 50+ years ago who went out to vote for Trump and will do so again in 2020. We aren't going to reach these people by trying to have conversations with them. "What ever happened to those white folks from those old photos?" Take a glance at polling stations every two years. That's where they are.
This is cool, thanks.
 

jackal27

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Jun 29, 2012
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I've thought about this a lot and asked my grandfather about it. He's told me that in our area of southwest Missouri, there wasn't an incredible amount of outrage like in Mississippi or Alabama during desegregation, but it was still there. Most of the young people in those days thought the older folks who were outraged by it were crazy and most of them are dead now.

I'll brag on my grandma and grandpa though, because they would never say this about themselves. They've been like second parents to so many poc in our area because my uncle was the head baketball coach at our biggest school. They would invite his players over constantly or go to their homes. We frequently had people at our dinner table who didn't look like us when I was growing up and now seeing folks like them come back to introduce grandma and grandpa to their kids is pretty incredible. I've never even heard my grandparents mention it, but it stands out me because of the generation they come from. They probably don't understand concepts like systemic racism all that much, but I know they'd do or give up whatever they could to help someone in need, even if it meant there was nothing for them in return. I hope I can be more like them.

But overt racism and white supremacy survived. My other grandpa for example has said some really sickeningly racist things when I've been around him. He's bipolar and so whatever he thinks comes out one way or another. He's awful and I haven't talked to him in years though. Apparently he once repeatedly kicked my mom in the ribs when when a Puerto Rican boy walked her home from school.

That type of hatred just seemed so foreign and strange to me, growing up with the opposite extreme from my other side. Maybe my parents just tried to shield us from being impacted by it. I remember my uncle said "MLK was kind of an idiot though." at a family gathering and my mom went off him, yanked us up, and we left. That stuck with me as a child.

In high school is where I really started to encounter that kind of racism though. We had one, maybe two black kids in the entire school at the time, because it was one of the smaller schools in the surrounding small towns. The rednecks or "country boys" were particularly vicious and horrible, but cowards for the most part, flying huge Confederate flags from their cars for example. The majority of them never would never talk to a black person face to face, but in the company of white folks they felt empowered to say whatever. If I could punch one of those guys in the face again today, I would in a heartbeat.

This stuff breaks my heart. I'm not even always certain how to respond, but it makes me so angry and broken-hearted for you guys for whom it's a daily reality.
 
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