Day 20: The Jim Crow Laws #BlackHistoryMonth

20140220-134739.jpg A black male could not offer his hand (to shake hands) with a white male because it implied being socially equal.

Obviously, a black male could not offer his hand or any other part of his body to a white woman, because he risked being accused of rape.

Blacks and whites were not supposed to eat together. If they did eat together, whites were to be served first, and some sort of partition was to be placed between them.

Under no circumstance was a black male to offer to light the cigarette of a white female — that gesture implied intimacy.

Blacks were not allowed to show public affection toward one another in public, especially kissing, because it offended whites.

Jim Crow etiquette prescribed that blacks were introduced to whites, never whites to blacks. For example: “Mr. Peters (the white person), this is Charlie (the black person), that I spoke to you about.”

Whites did not use courtesy titles of respect when referring to blacks, for example, Mr., Mrs., Miss., Sir, or Ma’am. Instead, blacks were called by their first names. Blacks had to use courtesy titles when referring to whites, and were not allowed to call them by their first names.

If a black person rode in a car driven by a white person, the black person sat in the back seat, or the back of a truck.

White motorists had the right-of-way at all intersections.

Stetson Kennedy, the author of Jim Crow Guide (1990), offered these simple rules that blacks were supposed to observe in conversing with whites:

Never assert or even intimate that a white person is lying.

Never impute dishonorable intentions to a white person.

Never suggest that a white person is from an inferior class.

Never lay claim to, or overly demonstrate, superior knowledge or intelligence.

Never curse a white person.

Never laugh derisively at a white person.

Never comment upon the appearance of a white female.
The Jim Crow laws were racial segregation laws enacted between 1876 and 1965 in the United States at the state and local level. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy, with, starting in 1890, a “separate but equal” status for African Americans. The separation in practice led to conditions for African Americans that tended to be inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. De jure segregation mainly applied to the Southern United States. While Northern segregation was generally de facto, there were patterns of segregation in housing enforced by covenants, bank lending practices, and job discrimination, including discriminatory union practices for decades.

Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated.

These Jim Crow Laws followed the 1800–1866 Black Codes, which had previously restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans with no pretense of equality. State-sponsored school segregation was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education. Generally, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Jim Crow system was undergirded by the following beliefs or rationalizations: whites were superior to blacks in all important ways, including but not limited to intelligence, morality, and civilized behavior; sexual relations between blacks and whites would produce a mongrel race which would destroy America; treating blacks as equals would encourage interracial sexual unions; any activity which suggested social equality encouraged interracial sexual relations; if necessary, violence must be used to keep blacks at the bottom of the racial hierarchy. The following Jim Crow etiquette norms show how inclusive and pervasive these norms were:

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