[Cover Image from Jim Crow Songbook, 1847, admonishing Black people not to laugh at “them who happen to be white,” a rather strange play at victimhood in a year when almost all Blacks in America were enslaved.]
Of course, white supremacist prohibited Blacks from voting, holding office, serving on juries, having sex with or marrying whites, attending school with whites, eating at restaurants with whites, sharing street cars with whites (at issue in Plessy v. Ferguson), and so-on and so forth (Oregon just straight up banned Black people for many years). But I have only recently come to learn the depth, breadth, and sheer pettiness of Jim Crow and white supremacists, who must be among the most fragile people the world has ever seen. Deep down this brutal history really isn’t funny, but the fact that white racists felt it necessary to ban these things is at least a little bit funny–These people had really thin skin. Here are just some of the activities that so perturbed the White Supremacists that they sanctioned them with the law (and the lynch):
- Black people eating vanilla ice cream.
- Black people and white people touching the same books.
- Black people playing cards, dice, dominoes, or checkers with white people.
- Black people playing pool or billiards with white people.
- Black baseball teams playing within two blocks of a white-only playground (or vice versa).
- Black boxers sparring with white boxers. (When a black boxer beat a white boxer, “race riots” in which white mobs indiscriminately murdered black rippled across American cities.”)
- Black people swimming with whites.
- Black bands playing with white bands.
- Black people being buried in the same graveyards as white people.
- Black barbers cutting white women’s hair.
- Black people living in the same building as white people.
- Black people making eye contact with white people (“reckless eyeballing”).
- Black people using the same telephone booths as whites.
- Black people circulating newspapers.
- Black people owning guns, dirks, or bowie-knives.
Like extreme conservatives in the US today, who have passed laws banning CDC research on guns, banning doctors from talking about guns with their patients, banning the promotion of non-binary pronouns, increasing penalties for protesting, and believe football players should face economic reprisals for protest, white supremacists during Jim Crow shared this belief in restricting the rights of people who disagree with them. Mississippi banned “printing, publishing or circulating printed, typewritten or written matter urging or presenting for public acceptance or general information, arguments or suggestions in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and negroes.” Mississippi also had in its vagrancy law (a racist Jim Crow statute that allowed the police to arrest and “lease out” unemployed Blacks, often to plantation owners) a provision banning whites from “assembling themselves” with blacks “on terms of equality.”