Blood Done Sign My Name essay

1283 Words6 Pages
Blood Done Sign My Name EDFS 5209 September 19, 2012 “Paternalism strengthened the system of white supremacy by softening its sharper edges and covering its patent injustices with a patina of friendship.” This quote from page 25 of Tyson’s book appears, on the surface, to be his most accurate assessment of the “civil rights era” of all his statements that are not reflections of his personal situation. On deeper examination, however, this doesn’t stand up. I’m not sure paternalism is the right word, but since he used it, we’ll go with that. I lived my early years in a suburb of Chicago (LaGrange) that was all white, as far as I knew. There was a part of town that was literally “across the tracks.” I’m not sure of the racial…show more content…
There are countless examples this. But this where I’m not sure paternalism is the right word. My wife tells of a poor, old black woman that lived near her family’s farm in Athens, Georgia. My future mother-in-law would give her clothes out of the closet and food out of the garden. To me, these were acts of kindness and Christian up-bringing: to help those in need. When the Cuban missile crisis was at its height, my father hired a black man to shovel dirt on top of a fall-out shelter he built in a corner of our basement. This man had a large family and needed to put food on his table, just like my dad did. It would take an over-educated academic to call these two cases of “paternalism.” “You’re keeping the black man down, hiring him for menial jobs!” Was my dad supposed to ignore this man and look for a white man to shovel the dirt? “I bet that makes you feel good and ease your conscience, giving things to a poor black woman.” Should my mother-in-law rather have kept her things and ignored the plight of her neighbor? These acts were not those of paternalism. Paternalism suggests a relationship between one who can do and one who cannot do. They were acts of kindness and economics. The old woman didn’t suffer in want because she was black, but because she was old. The man didn’t need money because he was black, but because he had a family to feed. I cannot fathom too many situations where motivation
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