Monday, December 6, 2010

Featured Reader Comment: "He Explained to Me Why the Black Families had Nice Cars But the Houses, Not So Nice..."

Changes are here, and in the now. More changes are coming in the near future.

As signaled to by the change in the graphic at the top of We Are Respectable Negroes, I am moving forward while always acknowledging the core values of this project. And yes, I will break kayfabe a bit more more in the next few weeks and reveal some more details about what the future will hold.

But trust, one, that me Gordon and Zora are still family and they will be around either on a Blogtalk radio show or as guest editors. But also two, that at 1,000 posts (a benchmark that I never would have imagined this fun project reaching in two years), I decided to acknowledge the obvious.

'Nuff said.

One of the changes I am going to introduce is to feature those comments that I find particularly thought provoking. I have a few more in the queue, but the following comment from Fred C seemed particularly worthy of discussion given last week's convo on Sarah Palin's white nationalist infused (mis)understanding of Black Americans and our patriotism.

Thus, our inaugural featured comment. In response to Palin's nonsense, Fred C wrote:

I was seven when my family started driving through the south every year to visit my grandparents in Florida. I remember my sense of wonder at the signs for "White Only" and "Colored" on everything from water fountains to beaches. My father, not perhaps the most enlightened man but well up the scale, made an education of it. He'd pull off the main road and take us through the towns. One time, in a Black neighborhood of some little Georgia backwater, he explained to me why the Black families had nice cars but the houses, not so nice. "The car guys will lend them money, but no bank will give them a mortgage." It was the beginning of my long education in these matters. Much later, married but far from rich, and subject to bad times, my wife and I would sometimes console each other by saying, "it could be worse, we could be Black." We knew that being Black made everything much, much harder. Good for Michelle, speaking truth to power.


"The car guys will lend them money, but no bank will give them a mortgage."

I love that observation. Black folks may have money. But, we don't have wealth. The penchant of black folks for consumer goods makes sense given how white supremacy punished wealth accrual, but how damning and sad that the ethos of conspicuous consumption in true Freakonomics style continues to hold purchase over too many of the poor, middle, and working classes. And how vulnerable this has made blacks folks and others in this, our Great Recession.

Your thoughts?


Chris Albertson said...

Interesting observation. In 1957, when I came here as a Danish immigrant, I encountered racism for the first time. Being white, people of my color assumed that I, too, looked at blacks through their distorted glasses, so I heard a lot of racist jokes and things like: "they love their big, flashy cars, but don't have a pot to piss in."

In Copenhagen, I worked as an artist for a chain of music stores and sometimes hitched a ride home with one of our delivery vans. It was not uncommon to see the most expensive, teak wood piece of audio furniture delivered to an apartment that had poverty written all over it. People who are financially challenged often take comfort in owning one item that contradicts their economic (ergo, societal) status. Installment plans make that possible. It had nothing to do with race or ancestry, everything to do with prescribed social status and dreams. If cars had been within the realm of possibility in those post-WWII years, financially strapped Danes would have gone that route.

Most American whites did not understand what I was talking about.

Plane Ideas said...


I look forward to the growth, change, evolution of the project. I would to offer up an idea perhaps you will consider having folks like me provide some narratives and submissions??

I would also like to read more commentaries that are not about white folks, grievance, race chasing, crisis themes..

I would loke to come here and read about Black Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Lust, etc..

chaunceydevega said...

@thrasher--I stick with the girl that brought me to the dance so, yes, I will be writing about those core concerns about race and public and social life. I will be adding other things too as I have been signaling to lately. Re: guest posts I always encourage them, if you have something interesting by all means pitch it and let's see what happens.

@chris--What an interesting story. We have music, the 1950s, and an immigrant experience. Please share. What did you notice that was most striking about the U.S. in those years and what has changed the most since?

Your driver said...

Thanks, I never quite got the connection. I long ago observed that the difference between white blue collar folks and white white collar workers was that blue collar people had big cars and little houses while white collar people had little cars and big houses. It's all that damn credit thing. I have a big car and live in a little rented place.

Plane Ideas said...


I currently writing for a number of sites here in Detroit..I may consider pitching something yor way..

Again I hope when the changes come they will reflect a new elevation of thought with constructs and commentaries as well as themes consistence with your core agenda..

Chris Albertson said...

CD, I will gladly answer those questions when I have met a current writing deadline. In the meantime, some of the answers are already on my blog, Stomp Off, which you have among your links.

I have enjoyed this place and I look forward to seeing it develop further.

fred c said...

Thank you for accepting my comments in the spirit in which they are offered.

chaunceydevega said...

@Fred C--Thank you for offering them. You contribute with a certain generosity and clarity and your comment was spot on and a great start.

Big Man said...

The credit issue is an important one. I remember driving through certain white, working class enclaves and noticing the cars and houses they had and wondering how they could afford these things when I was pretty positive my salary exceeded there salary.
My father pointed out that it's much easier for white folks to get any and all credit at better interest rates, which allows them to have a quality of life that does not match their actual income level. It was an interesting revelation, driven home by our current crisis.