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
1890 – 1960
Karen F. Dimanche Davis
Types of Racist Cards:* 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. Note: the contrast between dark skin and white cotton fascinated whites, as did the similarity of kinked white hair to cotton
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—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.
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.
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)
“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.”
Coon with Razor: 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.
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.
A dark outlook
Six little pickaninnies
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.
Pickaninny—Torture JokesA popular theme is Black children and men as alligator bait—animals to be eaten by animalsTrue feelings for Blacks are displayed in these cards
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