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Thomas Sowell: Black rednecks and white liberals
TownHall ^ | May 5, 2005 | Thomas Sowell

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.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: blackrednecks; blacks; bookreview; culture; dialect; dixie; language; rednecks; south; sowell; thomassowell; whiteliberals
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To: wardaddy
Sowell's hair sure has gotten grey.

He's no spring chicken. At least 70 if memory serves me correctly.

51 posted on 05/05/2005 10:36:41 AM PDT by Protagoras (MYOB)
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To: Cornpone
THere's a great book on this culture and their substantial contributions to American History.

It's called, "Born Fighting", and traces the history of this culture (called the Scots-Irish in the book) from it's origins in the lowlands of Scotland, to America. My high-schooler read it as part of our American History unit. I highly recommend it.

52 posted on 05/05/2005 10:37:44 AM PDT by Red Boots
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To: elk

Complaints about "lack of diversity" at the local university are laughable. There are several thousand international students. I guess we are all supposed to know the code words by now.


53 posted on 05/05/2005 10:38:00 AM PDT by AppyPappy (If You're Not A Part Of The Solution, There's Good Money To Be Made In Prolonging The Problem.)
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To: untenured

If one does a few 'pubs' in North Ireland that feature live music, its not whit different from what we call Country and Western. Even their humor is very similar to what is found in the southern and western USA.
The after hours joints are even better.


54 posted on 05/05/2005 10:42:29 AM PDT by investigateworld ( God bless Poland for giving the world JP II & a Protestant bump for his Sainthood!)
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To: Red Boots

Sowell has written a few books on the subject of Race, culture and migration. I found them facinating. Not page turners to be sure, but very enjoyable.


55 posted on 05/05/2005 10:46:10 AM PDT by Protagoras (MYOB)
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To: Protagoras

I certainly wouldn't claim to be knowledgeable about anything concerning golf.

I've just seen him well-handle reporters who were trying to make racial issues out of things, and he was having none of it.


56 posted on 05/05/2005 10:48:53 AM PDT by FreedomPoster (Official Ruling Class Oligarch Oppressor)
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To: Red Boots

A few titles on the subject by Sowell in case you are interested.
Migrations and Cultures
The Economics and Politics of Race: An International Perspective
ETHNIC AMERICA: A HISTORY
Race & Culture: A World View
Conquests and Cultures
Migrations and Cultures: A World View


57 posted on 05/05/2005 10:53:32 AM PDT by Protagoras (MYOB)
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To: Tolik
I guess all the liberal hypocrites are doing flip flops over this article. I can see them now doing the John Kerry fish flop while ringing their hands and shouting indecent obscenities.


I like the way Thomas Sowell writes. However, he will surely be branded by left wing hand wringers such as Sharpton, Jackson, Farakan, Shabazz, Rangel, Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP and other Black RACISTS as being hokey.
58 posted on 05/05/2005 11:01:26 AM PDT by OKIEDOC (LL THE)
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To: AppyPappy

Some of these Diversity recruiters have done their job so well that the majority is not the minority.

Evil knowledge is the root of all evil.


59 posted on 05/05/2005 11:08:04 AM PDT by OKIEDOC (LL THE)
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To: cyborg
[ Most every black Trini knows black pudding and callaloo, all creole cooking that people think comes from blacks and indians but is really Scotch-Irish food tweaked with caribe seasonings. ]

I've had the thought that Roti's were in essense Cornish Pasties.. they serve the same purpose.. made with an East Indian twist..

60 posted on 05/05/2005 11:08:57 AM PDT by hosepipe (This Propaganda has been edited to include not a small amount of Hyperbole..)
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To: FreedomPoster
I've just seen him well-handle reporters who were trying to make racial issues out of things, and he was having none of it.

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.

61 posted on 05/05/2005 11:21:17 AM PDT by Protagoras (MYOB)
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To: hosepipe

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 :-)


62 posted on 05/05/2005 11:39:26 AM PDT by cyborg (Serving fresh, hot Anti-opus since 18 April 2005)
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To: wardaddy

This is true.


63 posted on 05/05/2005 11:40:22 AM PDT by cyborg (Serving fresh, hot Anti-opus since 18 April 2005)
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To: Conservomax

wow that's interesting...everyone has their particular prejudices it seems.


64 posted on 05/05/2005 11:42:35 AM PDT by cyborg (Serving fresh, hot Anti-opus since 18 April 2005)
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To: cyborg
[ 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 :-) ]

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..

65 posted on 05/05/2005 11:46:35 AM PDT by hosepipe (This Propaganda has been edited to include not a small amount of Hyperbole..)
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To: hosepipe

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.


66 posted on 05/05/2005 11:52:47 AM PDT by cyborg (Serving fresh, hot Anti-opus since 18 April 2005)
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To: Tolik
How about "I'm fitten to go!" or "Who dat" or "wha cha wan".

IMO your verbage has more to do with education that your heritage.

67 posted on 05/05/2005 11:59:55 AM PDT by sandydipper (Less government is best government!)
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To: Drawsing

"There are white trash and black trash cultures."

Sheets, is that you?


68 posted on 05/05/2005 12:00:54 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry (Esse Quam Videre)
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To: cyborg
wow that's interesting...everyone has their particular prejudices it seems.

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.

69 posted on 05/05/2005 1:27:37 PM PDT by mikegi
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To: GodBlessRonaldReagan

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.


70 posted on 05/05/2005 1:34:07 PM PDT by ZULU (Fear the government which fears your guns. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: Mercat

"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.


71 posted on 05/05/2005 1:37:35 PM PDT by ZULU (Fear the government which fears your guns. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: Tolik

Could you please add me to your ping list, thank you.


72 posted on 05/05/2005 1:39:25 PM PDT by TXBSAFH (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, who's bringing the chips?)
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To: antisocial

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.


73 posted on 05/05/2005 1:39:54 PM PDT by ZULU (Fear the government which fears your guns. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: x

Great book - Albion's Seed.


74 posted on 05/05/2005 1:41:32 PM PDT by ZULU (Fear the government which fears your guns. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: Red Boots

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.


75 posted on 05/05/2005 1:43:02 PM PDT by ZULU (Fear the government which fears your guns. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: Protagoras

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.


76 posted on 05/05/2005 1:50:57 PM PDT by FreedomPoster (Official Ruling Class Oligarch Oppressor)
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To: Tolik
Saying "acrost" for "across" or "ax" for "ask" are today considered to be part of black English.

As much as I love the man, Dr. Sowell is dead wrong here.

There IS no such animal as "black English."

The only kinds of English are standard and incorrect. Some of my students chose to disregard this fact, and their paper grades showed it.

Oddly enough, every single one of 'em began writing more or less correctly after only one failed paper.
77 posted on 05/05/2005 1:53:41 PM PDT by Xenalyte (It's a Zen thing, you know, like how many babies fit in a tire.)
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To: Cornpone

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.


78 posted on 05/05/2005 1:55:03 PM PDT by Xenalyte (It's a Zen thing, you know, like how many babies fit in a tire.)
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To: sauropod; elk; Bacon Man; Hap

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.)


79 posted on 05/05/2005 2:00:52 PM PDT by Xenalyte (It's a Zen thing, you know, like how many babies fit in a tire.)
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To: mikegi

Your daddy's from Boerne? My in-laws hail from there! Just gorgeous country!


80 posted on 05/05/2005 2:01:56 PM PDT by Xenalyte (It's a Zen thing, you know, like how many babies fit in a tire.)
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To: hosepipe; cyborg
Y'all would love The Raj at Table by David Burton. It's a culinary history of the British in India. Fascinating book!
81 posted on 05/05/2005 2:13:56 PM PDT by Xenalyte (It's a Zen thing, you know, like how many babies fit in a tire.)
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To: Xenalyte

Sounds interesting..


82 posted on 05/05/2005 2:18:31 PM PDT by hosepipe (This Propaganda has been edited to include not a small amount of Hyperbole..)
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To: cyborg

yeah

I'm used to the old JWR photo.


83 posted on 05/05/2005 2:18:32 PM PDT by wardaddy ( Lucchese Belt Raised)
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To: cyborg

I know too well about callaloo. It's about the most aesthetically unpleasing food you will ever see.

I'm going there later this month. I'll have to put your theories to the test.

BTW, what kind of doubles do you want when I come back? ;)


84 posted on 05/05/2005 4:27:24 PM PDT by TypeZoNegative (Future Minnesota Refugee)
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To: ZULU

hmmm, I have more specifics but guessing you don't really want to know. I'll check out the book, thanks.


85 posted on 05/05/2005 5:17:33 PM PDT by Mercat
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To: antisocial
I think Mr. Sowell oversimplifies the issue - it's NOT North versus South - it's urban versus metropolitian. Basically only the wealthy (elite gentry) were 'educated' per se - formally that is, with the vast bulk of the population winging it.

He's had some excellent books and articles, but I think he missed the boat in this article - I hope the book will be better.

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.

I think here is where Mr. Sowell misses his mark, the point being that many do not want an 'elitist' education. Elitist being another case of poor/Southern/rednecks being told what to think by presumably enlightened yankees.

That's the reason many FLED England and the British Isles.

86 posted on 05/05/2005 5:23:44 PM PDT by 4CJ (Good-bye Henry LeeII. Rest well my FRiend. || Quoting Lincoln OR JimRob is a bannable offense.)
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To: untenured

Have you read Albion's Seed by David Hackett Fischer? Fascinating read about migrations from the Br. Isles to four areas in the new world: Mass. Bay, Penn., Appalachia and I believe Tidewater Va.

Takes some of his conclusions to far but by and all a worthwhile read.


87 posted on 05/05/2005 6:38:32 PM PDT by pa mom
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To: To Hell With Poverty

I'm going to pick a bone here: Hillbilly music was created in the 20's as a purely commercial vehicle. In fact, performers who showed up in suits were told to go home and put on overalls!

Bluegrass is closer to the Scottish and Scots Irish tunes that were carried over from the old country.

Sorry, it's a pet subject of mine. :)


88 posted on 05/05/2005 6:42:20 PM PDT by pa mom
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To: x

Peter Wood argues in "Black Majority" that the slaves in South Carolina were better able to maintain their culture because they had less interaction with whites. Of course, that culture in and of itself was a blend of the various african and carribean locales of the slaves.

In the highlands of Appalachia, there was more interaction between whites and blacks, in part because there were far fewer slaves and in part because there were more poor whites. The poor economy meant that slaves and their owners often lived in tight quarters and poor whites and free blacks often lived side by side.

Long winded post to say you are right!


89 posted on 05/05/2005 6:54:28 PM PDT by pa mom
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To: TypeZoNegative

LOL!!! but it's so good for you. It's brain food ;-)


90 posted on 05/05/2005 8:50:41 PM PDT by cyborg (Serving fresh, hot Anti-opus since 18 April 2005)
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To: mhking; rdb3

ping


91 posted on 05/05/2005 9:02:17 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (First you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women (HJ Simpson))
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To: Mercat

Trust me. You'll enjoy it. I did and I'm an early American History Buff.


92 posted on 05/06/2005 6:23:27 AM PDT by ZULU (Fear the government which fears your guns. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: pa mom

That's fine, I knew I had to be a little inaccurate. To my city-slicker ears Bluegrass sounds a little bit "hillbilly," so thanks for the clarification! :)


93 posted on 05/06/2005 8:40:05 AM PDT by To Hell With Poverty (From the rainbow center of the bluest part of a good Red State)
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To: sandydipper
IMO your verbage has more to do with education that your heritage.

Those reasons aren't mutually exclusive, especially if you mean cultural heritage, which Sowell does.

94 posted on 05/09/2005 3:24:16 AM PDT by MitchellC
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To: Xenalyte
As much as I love the man, Dr. Sowell is dead wrong here. There IS no such animal as "black English."

Sowell seems to agree with you, which is why he said "considered black English."

95 posted on 05/09/2005 3:29:38 AM PDT by MitchellC
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To: Tolik

Who's to blame for black behavior? Why those nasty white southerners, of course. Utter nonsense, bigoted scapegoating of people on the officially approved target list.


96 posted on 05/09/2005 3:28:40 PM PDT by jordan8
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To: jordan8

Hm? Where in the world did you get that?


97 posted on 05/09/2005 11:41:15 PM PDT by MitchellC
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To: Xenalyte
... the Catskills dialect of today is the closest current dialect to Elizabethan English.

Catskills? Or Appalachia?

98 posted on 05/10/2005 12:09:19 AM PDT by dread78645 (Sarcasm tags are for wusses.)
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To: antisocial

placemark


99 posted on 05/10/2005 12:18:26 AM PDT by Maigrey (Thank You Malachi Whitlock for your gift of Life and Love)
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To: Tolik; All

There was a movie about the roots of Appalachian gospel and folk music from England/Scotland/Wales

Songcatcher
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0210299/


100 posted on 05/26/2005 6:04:57 PM PDT by Lorianne
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