Skip to comments.Thomas Sowell: Black rednecks and white liberals
Posted on 05/05/2005 4:47:23 AM PDT by Tolik
Black identity has become a hot item in the movies, on television, and in the schools and colleges. But few people are aware of how much of what passes as black identity today, including "black English," has its roots in the history of those whites who were called "rednecks" and "crackers" centuries ago in Britain, before they ever crossed the Atlantic and settled in the South.
Saying "acrost" for "across" or "ax" for "ask" are today considered to be part of black English. But this way of talking was common centuries ago in those regions of Britain from which white Southerners came. They brought with them more than their own dialect. They brought a whole way of life that made antebellum white Southerners very different from white Northerners.
Violence was far more common in the South -- and in those parts of Britain from which Southerners came. So was illegitimacy, lively music and dance, and a style of religious oratory marked by strident rhetoric, unbridled emotions, and flamboyant imagery. All of this would become part of the cultural legacy of blacks, who lived for centuries in the midst of the redneck culture of the South.
That culture was as notable for what it did not have as for what it had. It did not emphasize education, for example, or intellectual interests in general.
Illiteracy was far more common among whites in the antebellum South than among whites in the North, and of course the blacks held in bondage in the South were virtually all illiterate. On into the early 20th century, Southern whites scored lower on mental tests than whites in other parts of the country, as blacks continued to do.
Many aspects of Southern life that some observers have attributed to race or racism, or to slavery, were common to Southern blacks and whites alike -- and were common in those parts of Britain from which Southern whites came, where there were no slaves and where most people had never seen anyone black.
Most Southern blacks and whites moved away from that redneck culture over the generations, as its consequences proved to be counterproductive or even disastrous. But it survives today among the poorest and least educated ghetto blacks.
This is a much bigger story than can fit into a newspaper column, which is why I wrote my latest book, "Black Rednecks and White Liberals."
White liberals come into this story because, since the 1960s, they have been aiding and abetting a counterproductive ghetto lifestyle that is essentially a remnant of the redneck culture which handicapped Southern whites and blacks alike for generations.
Many among the intelligentsia portray the black redneck culture today as the only "authentic" black culture and even glamorize it. They denounce any criticism of the ghetto lifestyle or any attempt to change it.
Teachers are not supposed to correct black youngsters who speak "black English" and no one is supposed to be judgmental about the whole lifestyle of black rednecks. In that culture, belligerence is considered being manly and crudity is considered cool, while being civilized is regarded as "acting white."
These are devastating, self-imposed handicaps that prevent many young ghetto blacks from getting a decent education or an opportunity to rise to higher levels.
Multiculturalism today celebrates all cultures but it is the poor who ultimately pay the price of that celebration in stunted development, missed opportunities and blighted lives.
No one today would dare to do what Northern missionaries did after the Civil War, set up schools for newly freed black children in the South with the explicit purpose of removing them from the redneck culture that was holding back both races there.
A wholly disproportionate number of future black leaders and pioneers in many fields came out of the relatively few and small enclaves of Northern culture deliberately planted in the post-Civil War South. What they did worked and what the multiculturalists are doing today repeatedly fails.
But results are no longer the test. The test is whether what you say makes you feel good as someone who is a "friend" of blacks. But friends like that can do more damage than enemies.
He has done an admirable job of that.
His use of the Lord's name in vain on a continual basis (not just a slip once in a while) and other foul language which can be clearly heard on TV quite often, is not a class act IMO.
Like I said, I'm not a Tiger basher, just an observer.
Roti is pretty much a gift of the Indians. Patties are a lot like pasties imho though I've not researched it in any way :-)
This is true.
wow that's interesting...everyone has their particular prejudices it seems.
Ah! but the Brits were in India long before they were in Trinidad.. and effected India in many ways.. including food.. Wonder if you can get Roti in England.. Probably can..
You know what? I ate something called a double which is a mini roti and that's pretty close. My mother is dougla so most of the cooking I ate in life was Indian. OH yes you can get roti in England for sure.
IMO your verbage has more to do with education that your heritage.
"There are white trash and black trash cultures."
Sheets, is that you?
Of course, everyone has prejudices to those outside his/her group. Race is just a convenient dividing line because it's obvious. Religion is a good dividing line between those of the same race. Hell, this natural tendency even shows up in the computer Operating System and PC/Mac wars.
The nice thing about America is you can be anything you want to be - if you are willing to work for it and have the imagination to pursue it. An American can create his own reality.
"England" is a BIG place.
Read "ALbion's Seed" an old historical classic. People who came from different parts of England spoke differently, had different naming conventions for thier children, followed different religions, built different houses, settled in different parts of America and had different value systems. And that doesn't even include people like the Welsh, Cornish, Low-Land Scots, High-Land Scots, Scots Irish or Gaelic Irish.
Could you please add me to your ping list, thank you.
There is some substance to what he says, but also a lot of nonesense here.
Southerners in general, tend to be far more polite and more conventional in their behavior than many northerners.
They certainly are far more religious, patriotic and traditional.
Great book - Albion's Seed.
Yeah, except I wouldn't put people like Robert Redford in the same class as George Patton or Stonewall Jackson. People like Redford aren't fir to clean Jackson's or Patton's boots.
Gotcha. Haven't seen that, but don't watch that world closely enough to have seen it, don't doubt you a bit. That's too bad.
As a lit major, I heard over and over the assertion that the Catskills dialect of today is the closest current dialect to Elizabethan English.
White guilt my warrior ass.
I can PROVE that from the day they hit this country's shores in the 1700s up until about 1960, my ancestors were absolutely dirt-poor.
Even my many-times-great-uncle Cap'n John, a Revolutionary War soldier who eloped with his CO's (allegedly attractive and unarguably 16-year-old) daughter Nancy when he was in his sixties, didn't have two nickels.
As soon as I was old enough to catch on, I found family speculation rife (and salacious) regarding the reason young Nancy chose to run off with a poor older man.
(If you're curious, Cap'n John outlived Nancy and all but two of their children, dying at 110. He is my role model, except for the hot 16-year-old part.)
Your daddy's from Boerne? My in-laws hail from there! Just gorgeous country!
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