Wednesday, May 7, 2008

dance at whites only parties

"whites only party"
by the dears

we ain't here to steal your women
well, at least that wasn't the plan
there's that closet smell
makes you think you've
been inside there too long
you're almost mystical
and i'm impossible
we need a miracle
a miracle

don't say i'm paranoid
it's more like just annoyed
maybe a bit destroyed
a bit destroyed
and there's nowhere else for us to run
and our time has sure as hell become
and life has just begun
it's just begun

The Dears seem to be singing here about the days of segregation.

Back in the day, that is, when whites forcefully cordoned off or outright excluded non-whites from such things as parties, dances, graduation ceremonies, drinking fountains, swimming pools, country clubs, movie theaters, restaurants, schools, weddings, funerals, sporting events, restrooms, neighborhoods, jails, front-door entrances and exits, cemeteries, political offices, bus seats, train seats and train cars, gas stations, houses, apartments,
barbershops, churches, locker rooms, hotels, motels, parks, stores, child-adoption rights, military units, bowling alleys, pool halls, bars, mental hospitals and other health-care facilities, interracial relationships, liquor stores, sidewalks, land ownership, workplaces, sports teams, reparations, musical groups, libraries, postal services, orphanages and other child-care facilities, textbooks, government services, and public telephones,

and also from such activities as

voting, accusing white people of lying, using white people's first names, offering to shake hands with a white person, kissing or hugging each other in public, staying in any of thousands of entire towns after dark (and often during the daytime too), commenting upon the appearance of a white female, cursing or laughing derisively at a white person, being in white neighborhoods without a specific reason, recreating with white people (including such activities as boating and playing checkers or dominoes), claiming or demonstrating superior knowledge or intelligence to those of any white person, suggesting that a white person is inferior in any way (even to other white persons), and defending oneself or one's friends or family members from an array of white forms of
physical, mental, emotional, and sexual attack.

Between the end of the Civil War and the end of the Civil Rights Movement, white people really, really did not want to be around non-white people, especially black ones.
In the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, they also severely restricted the activities of non-white people.

But white folks aren't like that anymore.


[I compiled the above lists from several printed and online sources--if you think of more examples, please let me know in the comments, or by email ( ) and I will add yours to this post. Among the more useful sites for details on what the era of American Apartheid was like is Ferris State University's online Jim Crow Museum.]


  1. Uh, no, wrong. I mean, I like the list and appreciate it. What a sad reminder of those days. But I think white people often still do keep away from people of color.

    So many live in all, or almost all, white places, and don't think there's anything wrong whatsoever with that. And so many don't even know how those places got that way--by actively keeping non-white people out.

    Look at fraternities and sororities. Why do you think non-white people set up their own? A big reason is because the undeclared-but-nevertheless-white ones don't welcome them, aside from a few token non-white ones who are allowed in to deflect charges of racism.

    Good lists from the past, but you could set up lists like that about the present too.

    Love the video, by the way.

  2. caspie, I'm pretty sure the last sentence was sarcastic.

    But you are right. More and more it becomes clear that diversity never, ever, means that White people are in the minority of an organization. They're either majority White or entirely non-White. Reaching out is non-Whites integrating into White organizations, and so rarely the other way around. There are, of course, precious and glorious exceptions.

  3. Between the end of the Civil War and the end of the Civil Rights Movement, white people really, really did not want to be around non-white people, especially black ones.

    Why especially us? I just can't get my head around it and I'm not trying to play the Oppression Olympics. Why do whites single out blacks as the "horriblest" of the horrible? This isn't just idle wondering, by the way. It has impacted a number of areas in my life since moving to a state where pervasive white attitudes clearly reflect a lack of experience with diversity (example: Swedes and Norwegians used to have separate hospitals, churches, etc. ... and some people still refer to Swedish/Norwegian American unions as "mixed marriages." In the not-so-distant past, such unions were deemed "controversial" - so you might well imagine the ridiculousness that my husband and I currently go through).


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