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Racist Postcards in the United States. 1890 – 1960 Karen F. Dimanche Davis 2007 Revised 2011. These racist postcards were:. Made and used primarily from 1900 through 1965 Imagined, created, and manufactured by real people

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Racist postcards in the united states

Racist Postcards in the United States

1890 – 1960

Karen F. Dimanche Davis

2007

Revised 2011


These racist postcards were
These racist postcards were:

  • Made and used primarily from 1900 through 1965

  • Imagined, created, and manufactured by real people

  • Sold in the or millions (From 1905-1915, 10 billion cards were sold in the U.S., with depictions of Blacks among the most popular styles)

  • Sent throughout the US and in foreign countries to millions of people—many who never met a Black man or woman

  • Reinforced the same demeaning, hateful, terrorizing ideas and beliefs over four generations


Types of racist cards photographic stereotypes
Types of Racist Cards:* photographic stereotypes *

  • Mammy

  • Uncle

  • Sambo or Coon

  • Pickaninnies

  • Animal-like labor

  • Simple contentment


Some were realistic photographic portraits, but posed by white perceptions to create a “type”– the mammy


The good darky or uncle tom
The “good Darky” or Uncle Tom white perceptions to create a “type”– the mammy


Pickaninnies
Pickaninnies white perceptions to create a “type”– the mammy


Manual labor beasts of burden
Manual labor white perceptions to create a “type”– the mammy “beasts” of burden




Poor but contented a watermelon feast taking life easy down in sunny dixie
Poor but contented not work.“A Watermelon Feast”“Taking Life Easy Down in Sunny Dixie”



Types of Racist Cards: not work.* cartoons and staged photographs *Staged photographs or cartoons are ideal for conveying demeaning, dehumanizing, or terrorizing images. Real human features and events can be exaggerated or even invented. This makes it easier for the artist to depict the intended racist ideals or values.(1) Color jokes(2) Mammy(3) Coon, Sambo, Brute (4) Darkie Preacher(5)Pickaninnies: Sexualized(6) Eugenics & Torture jokes


Older Black men, Uncle Remus or Uncle Tom, are beloved. not work.Note: the contrast between dark skin and white cotton fascinated whites, as did the similarity of kinked white hair to cotton



Suntan jokes
Suntan jokes not work.


In a caricature mammy can be coal black and obese with an ugly face bare feet and a red kerchief
In a caricature, Mammy can be coal-black and obese, with an ugly face, bare feet, and a red kerchief


Mammy can be drawn like an animal. Not only is she coal black with a red kerchief, coal black, but her posture and figure are being equated with those of a donkey—an ass. Can there be a clearer image of white views of Blacks as sub-human?


Mammy is an ever-grinning servant who is washing laundry, and helping the white man write a message. Note the strange animal-like pickaninnies with her.


Mammy: “I’s savin’ honey, deed I am— and helping the white man write a message. Note the strange animal-like pickaninnies with her.I saves my fat can fo’ th’ groc’ry man” This is a quadruple slur on Black spendthriftiness, ugly women, unusually large buttocks, and sexual permissiveness.



Poor Old Joe: weak, skinny man starves while his ugly Mammy wife grows fat. Whites misunderstand West African preferences for slender, quick-footed men and ample women who could successfully bear and raise children.


An ugly, slovenly wife awaits her ugly, drunken husband, waiting to beat him—implicating Blacks in hating each other


The ugly Black woman is beating up on her own “poor old Joe”, suggesting ugly Black women dominate and beat their weak men as if they were children.


Poor ole joe gets his revenge whites projecting hatred of the black woman onto the black man
“Poor Ole Joe” gets his revenge—whites projecting hatred of the Black woman onto the Black man


A Mammy & Pickaninnies puzzle asks us to show her all “eleben” pickaninnies, “no white trash.” With stick in hand, she plans to beat them when we find them. (Note the eugenics message in 11 children)




A play on words coon trees possum naming black men as coons and implying their animal nature
A play on words: being lazy. (N-word) “Coon trees possum”—naming Black men as “coons” and implying their animal nature


Black man as gorilla france
Black Man as Gorilla (France) being lazy. (N-word)


“You doun want none of my lip hey?” The answer to this ugly Coon who thinks he’s a civilized gentleman is, of course, “No, I would NOT want your ugly face.”


Black man as a savage a cannibal
Black man as a savage, a cannibal ugly Coon who thinks he’s a civilized gentleman is, of course, “No, I would NOT want your ugly face.”


Coon with Razor: ugly Coon who thinks he’s a civilized gentleman is, of course, “No, I would NOT want your ugly face.”His eye is onMammy’s Big Butt. Again, a multiple slur--Black men are irresponsible, dangerous, sexually lascivious, and Black women have ugly faces and large buttocks.




Happy irresponsible young coons gamble away their lives on their way to even more criminal behavior
Happy, irresponsible young Coons gamble away their lives—on their way to even more criminal behavior


A play on words for criminal behavior by young black men
A play on words for criminal behavior by young Black men lives—on their way to even more criminal behavior


“Out on bale”—a play on words—implying the young black man’s natural condition is to be in jail or “out on bail”


And this child is already in jail
And this child is already in jail black man’s natural condition is to be in jail or “out on bail”


Most criminal acts depicted are petty theft chickens and watermelons by children
Most “criminal” acts depicted are petty theft— black man’s natural condition is to be in jail or “out on bail”chickens and watermelons—by children


Coon dreaming of free chicken
Coon dreaming of free chicken black man’s natural condition is to be in jail or “out on bail”


Coon the black man as a chicken thief
Coon—the Black man as a chicken thief black man’s natural condition is to be in jail or “out on bail”


Irresponsible fighting among young men n word compared with gentility of patriotic whites 1901
Irresponsible fighting among young men (N-word) black man’s natural condition is to be in jail or “out on bail”(compared with gentility of patriotic whites, 1901)


Coons can if uncontrolled revert to their true state african primitive savagery
Coons can, if uncontrolled, revert to their true state—African primitive savagery


If kept busy at manual labor and fed with watermelon they will be the happiest people on earth
If kept busy at manual labor and fed with watermelon, they will be “the happiest people on earth”


And happily play the banjo
. . . And happily play the banjo will be “the happiest people on earth”


Why watermelons a symbol of simple contentment note coon becomes an edible fruit
Why watermelons? A symbol of simple contentment will be “the happiest people on earth”(Note: Coon becomes an edible fruit)



Double stereotype a scottish man resents tipping the grinning dehumanized black coons who serve him
Double stereotype: A Scottish man resents tipping the grinning, dehumanized Black Coons who serve him



Whites invented a “Darky Preacher” to warn Blacks against drinking, fighting, gambling, gossip, and trying to pass as white!




Both adults and children sexual pregnant and ignorant
Both adults and children: candies—morsels to devourSexual, pregnant and ignorant



Dark-skinned pickaninnies (a sexualized boy and girl) happily engulfed in watermelon and cotton—note they are also be-headed


Pickaninnies with bare butts were a popular theme, suggesting that children were undressed, like animals, and sexually available




Pickaninnies naked and sex crazed
Pickaninnies, naked and soldiersex-crazed


Children are sexualized. They are coal-black with huge red balloon lips, uncombed hair and ragged clothing. Like his father, this boy is sex-crazed.


This supposed hyper-sexuality leads Blacks to have many children—thus an implied eugenics message in images of families with many children

A dark outlook

Six little pickaninnies


Mother with seven children and a dog eight little pickaninnies kneeling in a row
Mother with seven children and a dog children—thus an implied eugenics message in images of families with many children“Eight little pickaninnies kneeling in a row”


The implied eugenic message explains the often subtle “torture” jokes in which Black men, women, and children are tortured or killed


These sexualized children with heart-shaped bare butts are objects of torture by another sex-crazed boy


A bare butt pickaninny torture joke
A bare-butt pickaninny torture joke objects of torture by another sex-crazed boy


Mammy coon and pickaninny all being tortured
Mammy, Coon and Pickaninny—all being tortured objects of torture by another sex-crazed boy


Bees will sting and eat up an innocent child
Bees will sting and “eat up” an innocent child. objects of torture by another sex-crazed boy


Mammy—Torture Joke. Here the woman’s breasts are being drawn into a washing-machine wringer. When white men suffer similar industrial accidents they are horrified and expect compensation—here, it’s supposed to be funny.


Torture joke advertisement for korn kinks
Torture Joke (advertisement for Korn Kinks) drawn into a washing-machine wringer. When white men suffer similar industrial accidents they are horrified and expect compensation—here, it’s supposed to be funny.


Pickaninny castration jokes displaying fears of black male sexuality
Pickaninny drawn into a washing-machine wringer. When white men suffer similar industrial accidents they are horrified and expect compensation—here, it’s supposed to be funny.Castration JokesDisplaying fears of Black male sexuality


Pickaninny—Torture Jokes drawn into a washing-machine wringer. When white men suffer similar industrial accidents they are horrified and expect compensation—here, it’s supposed to be funny.A popular theme is Black children and men as alligator bait—animals to be eaten by animalsTrue feelings for Blacks are displayed in these cards


Come on down torture jokes
“Come on Down” Torture Jokes drawn into a washing-machine wringer. When white men suffer similar industrial accidents they are horrified and expect compensation—here, it’s supposed to be funny.


Pickaninnies drawn into a washing-machine wringer. When white men suffer similar industrial accidents they are horrified and expect compensation—here, it’s supposed to be funny.“Alligator Bait”Torture JokeLike animals, the children are naked and without adult supervision


Pickaninnies torture joke as a joy ride
Pickaninnies—Torture Joke as a “Joy Ride” drawn into a washing-machine wringer. When white men suffer similar industrial accidents they are horrified and expect compensation—here, it’s supposed to be funny.


Pickaninny torture joke
Pickaninny—Torture Joke drawn into a washing-machine wringer. When white men suffer similar industrial accidents they are horrified and expect compensation—here, it’s supposed to be funny.


His Last Prayer—Torture Joke drawn into a washing-machine wringer. When white men suffer similar industrial accidents they are horrified and expect compensation—here, it’s supposed to be funny.Implying Black men wait for God’s help rather than take reasonable action


After a while, the alligator theme is so well known, it can be simply shown, to imply the alligators will devour the hated mammies


Similar images and ideas are still common today in newspapers, magazines, television, and other media.What examples can you give?


Bibliography

Bibliography newspapers, magazines, television, and other media.

Anderson, L.M. From blackface to “genuine negroes”: nineteenth-century minstrelsy and the icon of the “negro”. Theatre Research International 21(1):17-23, Spring 1996.

Baldwin, B. On the verso: postcard messages as a key to popular prejudices. Journal of Popular Culture 22(3):15-28, Winter 1988.

A brief history of postcards. Shiloh Postcards http://www.shilohpostcards.com/webdoc2.htm , accessed 03/31/2011

“Coon cards”: racist postcards have become collectors’ items. Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 25:72-3, Autumn 1999.

Curry, A. Men in blackface. U.S. News & World Report 133(2):24-5, July 8, 2002.

Alan Petrulis. (2010). Post Cards Between the Wars, 1914 – 1945: Racist Humor. Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City, http://www.metropostcard.com/history1914-1945.html accessed April 9, 2011.

Pilgrim, David. Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, Ferris State University, http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/ accessed 03/31/2011


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