Presentation on theme: "Racist Postcards in the United States"— Presentation transcript:
1 Racist Postcards in the United States 1890 – 1960Karen F. Dimanche Davis2007Revised 2011
2 These racist postcards were: Made and used primarily from 1900 through 1965Imagined, created, and manufactured by real peopleSold in the or millions (From , 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 womanReinforced the same demeaning, hateful, terrorizing ideas and beliefs over four generations
3 Types of Racist Cards: * photographic stereotypes * MammyUncleSambo or CoonPickaninniesAnimal-like laborSimple contentment
4 Some were realistic photographic portraits, but posed by white perceptions to create a “type”– the mammy
13 Types of Racist Cards:. cartoons and staged photographs 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
14 Older Black men, Uncle Remus or Uncle Tom, are beloved 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
18 In a caricature, Mammy can be coal-black and obese, with an ugly face, bare feet, and a red kerchief
19 Mammy can be drawn like an animal 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?
20 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.
21 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.
22 Mammy at home, however, is mean to her husband and children Mammy at home, however, is mean to her husband and children. She beats them and neglects them.
23 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.
24 An ugly, slovenly wife awaits her ugly, drunken husband, waiting to beat him—implicating Blacks in hating each other
25 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.
26 “Poor Ole Joe” gets his revenge—whites projecting hatred of the Black woman onto the Black man
27 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)
28 A baby mammy in training—overpowering the frightened skinny boy
29 Another young Mammy-in-the-making accuses her husband of being lazy Another young Mammy-in-the-making accuses her husband of being lazy. (N-word)
30 A play on words: “Coon trees possum”—naming Black men as “coons” and implying their animal nature
34 Coon with Razor: His eye is on Mammy’s Big Butt Coon with Razor: His eye is on Mammy’s Big Butt. Again, a multiple slur--Black men are irresponsible, dangerous, sexually lascivious, and Black women have ugly faces and large buttocks.
35 Coons with uncontrollable appetites for chicken and woman-as-chicken
36 “Discovered”—these young men are avoiding work in the cotton fields, implying they are lazy
37 Happy, irresponsible young Coons gamble away their lives—on their way to even more criminal behavior
69 Children are sexualized 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.
70 A dark outlook Six little pickaninnies This supposed hyper-sexuality leads Blacks to have many children—thus an implied eugenics message in images of families with many childrenA dark outlookSix little pickaninnies
71 Mother with seven children and a dog “Eight little pickaninnies kneeling in a row”
77 Bees will sting and “eat up” an innocent child.
78 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.
86 His Last Prayer—Torture Joke Implying Black men wait for God’s help rather than take reasonable action
87 After a while, the alligator theme is so well known, it can be simply shown, to imply the alligators will devour the hated mammies
88 Similar images and ideas are still common today in newspapers, magazines, television, and other media. What examples can you give?
89 BibliographyAnderson, 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 , 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, accessed April 9, 2011.Pilgrim, David. Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, Ferris State University, accessed 03/31/2011