If you know this blog, you know I loves me some vintage living. But what I like to explore - however ridiculously at times - is how a chapter in history was reflected in its media (and, in turn, the ideals and values that were impressed upon the culture). Well, that, and disgusting retro recipes. This is not, however, entirely reflective of reality. If you were to go purely by the 1950s women's magazines I own, you'd think, "race relations? What race relations? Shouldn't we be busying ourselves with a Jell-O mold right now?"
But come 1963-ish, magazine cover stories became less about "Soups Men Love!" and more about stuff like this (you'll know it when you see it):
"When A Negro Family Moves Next Door", written by Suzanne Hart Straight for Parents' magazine, January 1965. Oh, cringe.
I debated posting this entry because, well, it's totally horrible. That, and I'm a giant pussy whose intellect is more on the level with topics of Marshmallow Fluff than racism. But seeing as Martin Luther King Jr.'s life is celebrated today, it seems appropriate to remind people (and in some cases, educate people for the very first time) what he and those who fought for civil rights and dignity were up against.
Despite the unfortunate opinions expressed by some of the people interviewed in this article, I'm quite thankful for it, as it provides a look into what people really were thinking and feeling at the time without a PC-filter. It shows how far we've come, but it can also, perhaps, allow us to connect a few dots between those attitudes and how we view other groups and minorities in society today.
What's more, as I was reading, I had to keep reminding myself that this discussion wasn't about some weirdo town in the South that we all figure was full-on batshit racist, but was instead a middle-class neighbourhood in New Jersey. Yeah, buddy.
Let's not kid ourselves, there are still plenty of shitty things going on out there, said and done by people who weirdly claim it's not hateful (it's free speech! It's my religious belief! It's a genuine threat! It's hilarious! It's against my vision of America! The founding fathers wouldn't like it! Their hair products cloudy up my pool!). Give me a fucking break, you fucking fuckstains.
The author of "When A Negro Family Moves Next Door" does what I clearly can't do (as I just demonstrated); she responds to some really heinous opinions calmly, with facts and without a lot of judgement, possibly because she knew that you win more flies with honey and that, at the time, Parents' probably had a fair share of readers who related to what was being said by these neighbours.
But that shouldn't stop you or I for letting a "holy fuck!" or a "oh, hell no!" fly out of our mouths while reading this, particularly when you get to the part where "Mr. Heath's" shithead opinion is shared. I mean, just look at what this asshole has to say:
Ugh. Yes, please leave, Mr. Heath.
But the article isn't just a bunch of awful quotes. It shows a turning of a tide, people who were clearly rational and thoughtful and no doubt helped to shape the attitudes of their own neighbours. And - as a lesson for me, they did it without calling anyone a "fucking fuckstain":
So, without further ado, here's the article in its entirety, followed by a "Group Discussion Article" - some questions and information for people to use when discussing this article with friends, family, co-workers, or neighbours (I love that! Gold star, Parents'!). You should be able to open these images into a separate tab where you can expand them to a legible size:
And finally, how are you spending Martin Luther King Jr. Day?