Hidden History: The Invention of Segregation

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Episode 20: The Invention of Segregation

A New History of the American South

Dr Edward Ayers (2018)

Film Review

According to Ayers, Reconstruction had led to the natural development of public schools, poorhouses, orphanages for for newly freed Black citizens who lacked access to such services under slavery.

The first laws ordering public separation of Blacks and Whites applied to rail travel. Although nine states introduced laws separating Black and Whites on trains between 1887 and 1891, the term “segregation” wasn’t introduced until the 20th century. The railroads welcomed the laws to avoid incidents of Black passengers being accosted, assaulted and/or expelled by White passengers. Especially after one Black family won a lawsuit against the railroad for mistreatment.

Other forms of legally enforced segregation tended to accompany industrialization and urbanization. New cities tended to be segregated faster than older cities, as they purposely planned for separate facilities (eg streetcars, swimming pools for Black residents).

According to Ayers, one of the oddest features of racial segregation laws was that it only separated Blacks and Whites in public places. Extremely close (even intimate) interactions between Blacks and Whites were permitted in private settings, such as homes, and in male-oriented venues, such as bars, racetracks, boxing rings and brothels.  According to Ayers, the motivation for racial separation was in large part a backlash against the populists (see The People’s Party: How the South Gave Birth to Populism) and the threat of poor tenant farmers launching a new biracial coalition. Oddly, another strong motivation was sexual, ie the stated fear of white lawmakers that Black and White strangers comingling in public spaces might feel sexually attracted to one another.

Between 1890-1910, the South experienced their first significant out-migration of Black males and families seeking good paying jobs. Black sociologist and activist W.E. Dubois noted a significant break-up of Black extended families starting in the 1890s, as young adults left their sharecropping families to seek work in towns or in the North. Many elderly Black parents were left abandoned.

The film can be viewed free with a library card on Kanopy.

https://pukeariki.kanopy.com/video/invention-segregation

Just to let people know I’m moving to Substack and Telegram after several readers informed me I’ve been censored from WordPress Reader feed. The link to my Substack account is https://stuartbramhall.substack.com/. The link to my Telegram channel is https://t.me/themostrevolutionaryact I’ll continue to publish on WordPress as long as I’m able, but if my blog suddenly disappears you’ll know where to find me.

Putin: A Russian Primetime TV Documentary

 

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Masterskaya (2016)

English subtitles

Film Review

This film, despite being an obvious pro-Putin propaganda piece, provides interesting historical background on his role in thwarting western efforts to turn Russia into a third world sweatshop.

The beginning of the documentary, describing the plans laid by Putin’s cabinet to remove the oligarchs from power (see How Putin Outwitted the Russian Oligarchs ), confirm what I have always suspected: that his rise to global prominence relies heavily on his ability to choose skilled advisors.

This documentary also clearly conveys that he’s as much a populist as Donald Trump – though a far more skilled one. An amazingly effective speaker, his ability to influence and manage large groups is unparalleled among world leaders.

Although he tends to be extremely guarded about disclosing personal feelings, the film contains a few revealing clips from TV interviews. In one, he admits to his mistaken belief as a KGB agent that political conflict with the West would dissolve once Russians abandoned their Communist ideology. He now realizes that Russia will always have tension with the West based on competing geopolitical interests (ie competing demands for resources, markets, labor etc).

I was also intrigued to hear him discuss his enormous debt to teacher and mentor Anatoly Sobchak. Sobchak was a legal scholar and politician who co-wrote the constitution of the Russian Federation and was the first democratically elected mayor of St Petersburg. He died under suspicious circumstances in 2000.

The film’s main weakness is its total dismissal of Russia’s opposition movement as being too chaotic and disorganized for Putin to take seriously. While there is good reason to suspect CIA involvement in various anti-Putin street protests, it seems to be there would also be legitimate protest against the enormous obstacles to registering new political parties in Russia, as well as major censorship by the mainly state-controlled media.

I was also irritated by the repeated emphasis on Putin being a self-sacrificing leader with no interest whatsoever in personal wealth or power. According to various former insiders, Putin has immense personal wealth and may be one of the richest men in the world. See Putin Corruption: Five Things We Learned About the President’s Secret Wealth