A Black Woman, Racisim in the South (1902), author: undisclosed
“It seems to me that the very weakness of the negro should cause at least a few of our great men to come to the rescue. Is it because an espousal of our cause would make any white man unpopular, or do most of our great men think that we are worthless? Are there greater things to do than to “champion the rights of human beings and to mitigate human sufferings?””(82)
A black woman from Alabama wrote about what she experienced during the turn of the century. It starts out as if she is ready to rant about all her complaints. However, she conveys her message in terms of how things were at the time and questions why a ‘champion hasn’t risen to stand up to all the mistreatment blacks faced.
The best thing a white person could’ve said about a black person was that “they admit that they know blacks in no capacity except as servants, yet they say blacks are at their best in that single capacity”(81). Whites think that nothing good comes from being black and because of this they are mistreated. The human sufferings portion of the first quote refers to economic challenges that black individuals faced. The woman who writes this article had a hard time searching for a home to start a family because real estate was segregated between ‘white property’ and ‘colored property’. She struggled to find a healthy neighborhood to live in because all the colored property was so unhealthy, a respectable farmer would not even keep his cattle there. When she finally found a place to stay, it was a health choice in terms of shelter, but the family was made uncomfortable because of the neighborhoods unwelcoming mannerisms. From a social standpoint, “a colored woman is lower in status than the white prostitute. The Southern white woman will declare that no Negro women are virtuous, yet she placed her innocent children in their care…”(82). It is for the above examples that I brought the very first quote to our attention.
Black individuals were given this identity that was forced upon them by more powerful white people. It was embedded in their everyday lifestyle to the point that maybe they started to believe it. I say this in response to the author questioning why a champion hasn’t stepped up to protect them. I feel that there is a possibility that no champion stepped up because if black individuals started to rebel it would only hurt them not help them. Their act of defiance and rebellion would only be congruent to the identity white people forced on them and would show that these white people were right. The woman who wrote this text should in fact be the ‘champion’ she sought after because she was the one who ended up on white property which is a step toward her cause.
“The Chinese are not driven away because there is no room for them. Our country is not crowded. There are many millions of acres waiting for the plow. There is plenty of room here under our flag for five hundred millions of people. These Chinese that we wish to oppress and imprison are people who understand the art of irrigation… They are modest and willing to occupy the lowest seats.”
Robert G. Ingersoll is an Illinois attorney who despised the unwarranted and racist views that filled anti- Chinese laws. He was a reputable speaker and public figure who addressed many other issues and established his creditability as an orator.
To explain his viewpoint on the unwarranted, unjustified treatment of immigrants, Ingersoll referred to the arrival of the Irish and German. They became numerous in population and soon became powerful and an influential presence in the political field. Eventually the Irish and the Germans drove the native Americans out of trades and other forms of labor.
Yet when the Chinese arrived, they had no plans of moving up the social ladder. They were “inoffensive, peaceful, and non meddlesome.” They simply worked for themselves and didn’t try to instil their different faiths and culture onto other people. The Chinese were considerate of others yet they were met with hate and resistance – political with the Exclusion Act in 1892. Their employers were the only ones sympathetic and offering them jobs. The Chinese were denounced and asked to leave. They were willing to be servants and sweep and scrub. They did not expect to be masters, yet they were hated because of their patience and honesty in their work.
“The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 suspended all Chinese immigration for ten years and declared the Chinese ineligible for citizenship. Chinese workers already in the country challenged the constitutionality of the law, but their efforts failed. The act was renewed in 1892 for another ten years, and in 1902 Chinese immigration was permanently prohibited. Not until 1943 did Congress grant Chinese Americans eligibility for citizenship.Whereas, in the opinion of the Government of the United States the coming of Chinese laborers to this country endangers the good order of certain localities within the territory”
The Chinese Exclusion Act appears to me as Americans slapping their own faces. The United States is the country that advocates human rights. On July 9, 1868, before Chinese Exclusion Act was adopted, American established the Fourteenth Amendment, which states, “No State shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This Amendment should protect not only citizens but also aliens. But 14 years later, all Chinese immigrations were suspended. The Chinese Exclusion Act considered not only the racial, but also the national discrimination. They were ignoring the human rights that Amendment protects.
The Chinese Exclusion Act reflects two situations. First one is the rapid growth of Chinese population during the California Gold Rush period, which have caused the increasing of unemployment rate and economic crisis. The phrase “endangers the good order of certain localities” indicates that the influx of Chinese laborers resulted U.S. workers fight for the job within the tense situation. They were considering the job opportunities that Chinese took “endangers” residents’ life. American citizens lost their job due to the cheap Chinese laborers. Furthermore, American politicians exaggerated the negative image of Chinese laborers for votes. They are saying that Chinese have a lot of bad habits and prejudices. It is impossible for them to be Americanized, and it is unlikely they will accept the basis of the Christian ethical standards that the United States has established.
“An act to execute certain treaty stipulations relating to Chinese: Whereas, in the opinion of the Government of the United States the coming of Chinese laborers to this country endangers the good order of certain localities within the territory thereof: Therefore, Be it enacted, that from and after the expiration of ninety days next after the passage of this act, and until the expiration of ten years next after the passage of this act, the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States be.. suspended; and during such suspension it shall not be lawful for any Chinese laborer to come, or, having so come after the expiration of said ninety days, to remain within the United States.”
The Halocaust, the Rwandan Genocide, the Bosnian Genocide: these are just a few of the major tragedies of world history that have left a significant adverse impact on mankind. The Chinese Exclusion Act was just like the rest of them, if boiled down to its components. This act prohibited any Chinese immigrant from entering the United States and it wasn’t until 1943 that it was revoked. This act exemplified a huge extent of racial profiling and discrimination, preventing an entire race from entering America. It was detrimental to the principles the United States was built on: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Although the Chinese workers that were already inside America’s borders revolted, their efforts were quickly diminished, as the military put a stop to it immediately. America at the time felt this act was needed because supposedly the Chinese workers endangered “certain localities”, which is honestly difficult to believe.
This act showed the degree of nativism within the country at the time, how certain Americans could feel so threatened by immigrants, that they would have to cause an uproar and have these people’s rights deprived. Although nineteenth century America saw this act as a way of assisting the “American people”, but in reality all they really did was demonstrate how low the country could go, because in the world’s eyes they committed a genocide of not life, but liberty.
Mary E. Lease, The Money Question (1892)
“Money rules… The parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us. We were told two years ago to work and raise a big crop, that was all we needed. We went to work and plowed and planted ; the rains fell, the sun shone, nature smiled, and we raised the big crop that they told us to; and what came of it? Eight-cent corn, ten-cent oats, two-cent beef, and no price at all for butter and eggs-thats what came of it.”
One of the most active and passionate woman during the populist movement was Mary E. Lease. Mary urged farmers to “raise less corn and more hell!” Farmers were told to raise big crops by the parties only to learn that they were deceived into working a lot harder. After all the farmers hard work what came out of it was eight-cent corn, ten-cent oats, two-cent beef and nothing for butter and eggs. The farmers were told by the politicians that them that they suffered from overproduction but 10,000 little children starved to death and 100,000 shop girls in New York are forced to sell their virtue for the bread. The farmers were making barely enough money to survive. The Santa Fe Railroad and loan companies were just robbing the common people to make the rich richer. Mary E. Lease wanted to motivate them to fight for what belongs to them, go all out and do not give in. The people will refuse to work and pay their debts until the government pays its debt to them. Her speeches helped the farmers stop working like slaves and they also warned the government, letting them know that they were done being abused by the rich and their “masters” and they were done being controlled by the government. The country was done being run by wall street and it was going back to the peoples control. The time of people being abused is over.
“… A colored woman, however respectable, is lower [in status] than the white prostitute. The Southern white woman will declare that no Negro women are virtuous, yet she placed her innocent children in their care…. (An Anonymous Black Woman For the Record Chapter 21 Page 82).”
The middle of the 20th century was a time well-known for the activists for racial equality to step up and show the world a piece of their mind. However, before the time of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X, African Americans were not represented or heard for their concerns on inequality within America, the land of the free. For all the Whites cared for, Black people didn’t have any problems with what was happening to them. In the South, it wasn’t unusual for Blacks to be lynched. For a woman who lived in a white neighborhood, she must have been living in terror for her and her family every day. Although everyone in her area probably had the same income, everyone looked down on her family because they were Black.
According to the quote, she claimed that even White prostitutes are more respected than a Black housewife, like herself. Black women during her time faced double oppression; Whites looked down upon them for being Black, and Black men thought Black women were inferior because they were women. Knowing that she was the lowest of the low, her neighbors still left their kids to be babysat by someone who was worse than a prostitute. They used her for these kind of tasks, in some way, continuing to instill their authority over her family for being the inferior household in the neighborhood.
“This law is contrary to the laws and customs of nations. The punishment is unusual, severe, and contrary to our Constitution, and under its provisions aliens-citizens of a friendly nation-can be imprisoned without due process of law. The law is barbarous, contrary to the spirit and genius of American instructions, and was passed in violation of solemn treaty stipulations…After all, it pays to do right. This is a hard truth to learn-especially for a nation. A great nation should be bound by the highest conception of justice and honor. Above all things it should be true to its treaties, its contracts, its obligations. It should remember that its responsibilities are in accordance with its power and intelligence.”
The Chinese started coming to California in large numbers during the Gold Rush in the mid 1800s, hoping to strike it rich and return home. Many stayed and more came, working in the mines or taking other jobs. In 1882, they were made the targets of the United States’ first law limiting immigration based on race or nationality, the Chinese Exclusion Act. The Chinese Exclusion Act, approved in 1882 in Congress and lasted for 60 years, was the first and the only federal law in US history that excluded a single group of people from immigration on no basis other than their race. It explicitly banned Chinese workers from immigration and existing residents from naturalization and voting.
There are two reasons for accelerating the speed of this Act. 1) With the completion of the process of U.S. industrialization, labor shortages problem has gone, so they were no longer welcome those uneducated and unskilled Chinaman who earn their living just by doing manual work. 2) In the 1880s, Chinese worker were restricted themselves on making garment, leather, and matchstick for living. Therefore, Chinese worker was of no consequence in the development of American industrialization.
In the 1776, US Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson set in writing the people’s unalienable right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. American are treated with the so call human right, however Chinese were not protected under the human right even though they are human being as many other people too. In this case, the Chinese Exclusion Act against the sprint and genius of American Constitution.
“We want money, land, and transportation. We want the abolition of the national banks, and we want the power to make loans direct from the government. We want the accursed foreclosure system wipe out…(For the Record Chapter21 pg.87).”
Mary E. Lease was a populist woman who provided many speeches that aroused farmers stood up for themselves. On the end of 19 century, the farmers worked so hard to raise the big crop that the parties told them to do. The money rule, parties and political cheated famers to worked triple times but paid back little money to only let farmers able to survive. They were forced to sell the corn, beef in very low prices and eggs and butter for free. The excuse that politicians made was overproduction. In fact, children were dead because of lack of food supply. Over 1000 shop girls had to sell their virtue in order to support themselves. In addition, the main question is that Santa Fe Railroad and the loan companies plundered almost everything from farmers. They worked so hard to supply the government, but they got poor and poor even dead from their low wage jobs. Mary E. Lease was very indignant about this situation. She appealed farmers to get up for their benefits. She appealed farmers to get back what they should have and what belong to them which were the money, ability and power. The aggrieved inside of farmers finally awaken by Mary E. Lease.
Mary E. Lease, The Money Question (1892)
The end of the 19th century introduced many struggles for U.S farmers. Farming became more industrialized, and unlike the larger, wealthier farms, small farmers could not afford these new machines and were forced to shut down. In order to pay off debts and high interest rates, small farmers had to double or triple their production of crops. This not only overworked the soil, but this also drove down the price of their crop, producing very minimal profit. Farmers were forced to pay both local and federal taxes. Monopolies, such as the railroads, took advantage of them by charging high rates for shipping and storing costs. All these factors ultimately forced many farmers into foreclosure and, for the first time, to look for jobs outside of the agricultural sphere. Mary E. Lease, one of the main female proponents in the Populist Party, describes the nation at this time as a hypocrisy. Everything this country was founded on has been completely reversed; the country no longer belongs to the people, instead, it now belongs to Wall Street. Lease argues that the common people have been lied to, mislead and “motivated” to work hard by the political parties, yet received nothing in return and essentially “The common people are robbed to enrich their masters…”. Her passionate speeches were written to inspire courage into the wronged farmers to stand up against the big businesses of the time. This speech especially warned the railroads, the loan companies and even the government that the farmers were no longer going to suffer under their control, but rather they wanted “money, land, and transportation” and would use any means to do so.
Mary E. Lease, The Money Question, (1892)
Mary E. Lease was an activist who often made speeches in support of Populism. Living at a time when men, for the most part, dominated, put Lease fairly low on the totem pole of power in society. Thus, with the emergence of the Populist movement, she jumped at the opportunity to fight for change as well as for rights that she believed she deserved. In her speech, “The Money Question,” she criticized the nation as being inconsistent. More importantly, she provided an insight into how the economy during the industrial 1890’s was operating and what it meant to the more agricultural parts of the country. It was a speech meant to motivate farmers, and other Populist movement supporters, and open their eyes to the fact that change must be sought with the way the nation was functioning at the time. In it she said, “The great common people of this country are slaves, and monopoly is the master. The West and South are bound and prostrate before the manufacturing East.” With statements like these, she argued that money had taken control of the country, which put the common people, like farmers, on the back burner. The nation was beginning to revolve around monopolies and Wall Street, which led to “the people” being mistreated, and a faulty society of the overly rich and the desperately poor. She likens farmers, who worked strenuously to grow crops, to slaves because they were cheated out of the money they deserved by a system where they had relatively no say on how much they could sell their crops for. Ultimately, it seems as though the Gilded Age and industrialization brought much growth to parts of the East, but left the agriculture-based South struggling and underrepresented, thus the development of the Populist movement.