Most people are not aware of the fact that initially FDR’s New Deal programs did not help minorities much and that they were just as rife with Jim Crow as the southern voting laws.
At the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, racial and ethnic minorities needed New Deal assistance the most; but no one
initially received less. Most early New Deal relief and recovery programs routinely excluded or discriminated against
minorities. This was true for a number of reasons. First, the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)
depended on the support of segregationist southern Democrats in Congress, who controlled the key committee
chairmanships. Second, most New Deal programs were administered by local officials beholden to entrenched local interests
and prejudices. Third, the depression gave priority to economic recovery rather than reform. And finally, previous poverty
and powerlessness had left blacks and Mexican Americans with little or no political leverage.
Thus, the labor codes of the National Recovery Administration (NRA) tolerated lower wages for minorities; the Agricultural
Adjustment Administration (AAA) benefited landlords at the expense of farm tenants and laborers; the Civilian Conservation
Corps (CCC) maintained segregated work camps and kept minorities out of training programs that would lead to their
advancement; the Works Progress Administration (WPA) ended eligibility for aliens who had not applied for U.S. citizenship
before 1937, which cut off Mexicans and others (including Filipinos, even though the Philippines was a U.S. commonwealth)
from the job program; the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) encouraged residential segregation; and neither the
National Labor Relations Act nor the Social Security Act made any provisions for domestics or farm laborers, whose ranks
were disproportionately composed of racial minorities.
Even some charities would refuse to help or serve Blacks during the depression. At the onset of WWII the discrimination continued with few Blacks or other minorities being accepted into the military or being hired in defense plants or other areas. And sometimes being fired to make positions for white workers.
Discrimination in employment persisted throughout the World War II for African Americans and other minorities. Prior to the war, many blacks found jobs as hotel and train waiters and porters along with a handful of other unskilled positions. During the war, limits to the range of jobs open to African Americans remained in place. As one report noted, the position of the employer “in most instances has been guided by what he feels is an adverse attitude of his employees or the public who patronize his place of business.” Thus, blacks generally were excluded from jobs in cafes and restaurants. Some worked in hotels, such as the “full staff of Negro bus boys” that one hotel had recently hired in 1945. But many Portland hotels used more workers of Filipino descent than blacks. And department stores resisted hiring African American employees in jobs other than as maids and janitors, citing the general feeling that “the hiring of qualified Negroes in jobs other than of a service nature would not meet the approval of the public.” White employees also provided resistance as a report noted:
After WWII the blacks that were hired once again being fired to make positions available for the returning white workers. A lot of this had been rectified with the civil rights movement, especially in the south. But even though it is common to equate racism and bigotry to the south, with images of lynchings and white cigar smoking southern cops, northern racism was just as entrenched and maybe even more so.
Just look at this map of Hate Groups from the Southern Poverty Law Center. And these are the extremest groups. There is institutionalized racism in the north that most still do not talk about.
So it would seem as though the nation itself had an attitude that African Americans were inferior. And if you look at some of the laws that were in existence in the northern states, African Americans were not supposed to ride on streetcars; African Americans were not supposed to ride on steamers. The whole idea of Jim Crow and segregation of the races really originates in the North. African Americans couldn’t vote in most states, even if they owned property. So the exclusion and the [disfranchisement] was already there.
The concept of democracy seemed to be something in the nation at that time that was for white people. And it really relates to this concept of white nationalism, that no matter how poor you are, no matter what situation you’re in, if you’re white, then you are far better off than the wealthiest person of African descent.
And to a large extent it still exists today. LBJ when he signed The Civil Rights Act was supposed to have said “We have just lost the south for a generation”. Johnson was a naive optimist. With the civil rights act, he had lost most of white America for perhaps 10 generations. I use to live up in North East Ohio and outside Phillie and know where of I speak. Once you get away from the cities, racism and bigotry is still alive and well and most of the areas are lily white. And not just against Blacks but Latinos, Native Americans and even some Amish.
The attacks were always done by groups, not by individuals. The incidents were viewed as simple mischief, no matter how severe the offense, Byers said.
“They call the Amish `clapes’ and the attacks or thefts are known as claping,” he said. “Several individuals talked to us about how their uncles or fathers had done it as young men. We think it may go into several generations, but the interviews are still continuing.”
This is what progressives are fighting. This is what will make it nearly impossible to get any real progressive programs passed. Because these are the people who will fight you tooth and nail to prevent it just like they have been fighting Obama. It’s not just that they don’t like change, it’s that they won’t like any policy that would cause their white towns and neighborhoods to change. And it’s not that they hate entitlements and safety nets, it’s that they hate these safety nets helping those the deem beneath them. This is why Reagan’s “Welfare Queen” statement played so well in these areas. And it still does.
It’s popular for those on the left to give European countries as examples of progressive and enlightened policies but they conveniently forget to notice that these polices were passed by people and for people of the exact same ethnic and cultural background. Make no mistake had this not been the case these policies probably would not have been passed as a lot of these countries are just as racist and bigoted as we are. Just look at how France has been treating Muslims and Roma. And how Sweden has treated it’s immigrants.
This is what the left is up against. This is the reality of America and legislating civil rights and equality does not change behaviors or attitudes for they are generational and passed on. Only when people finally realize that these racist and discriminatory attitudes carries with it personal negative consequences will these attitudes change. And as Michael Lind in Salon points out, bashing them over it only makes them more entrenched, resentful and determined. So instead of denigrating these people and dismissing them, the left has to present their ideas in a way they can relate to personally. How will it effects them and their families, their businesses and their friends and leave the minorities out of it completely. It’s simply a major turn off.