Saturday, February 02, 2008

Sundowner Towns, USA

At the blog Orincus I read part seven of David Neiwert's ten-part series about Eliminationism in America, and read about a book—Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen, sociologist and educator and author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America. Sundown towns, it turns out, are those where it was forbidden for minorities of one sort or another to spend the night.

Lowewn has done extensive research into the history of towns across America. In fact, you can even look up your home town to see what he's found out, or what folks have posted about it.

I did just that and found the experience both enlightening and astonishing. I knew my hometown seemed to be virtually all white, while 15 miles down the road was a town that was mysteriously about half black. I didn't hear until I was in my 20s that this condition was not a fluke of nature, but rather a carefully orchestrated result of realtors.

The very neighborhood where I grew up turned out to have a restrictive covenant, part of which says:
"No part of said property or any buildings erected thereon shall be occupied or resided upon by any peson not wholly of the Caucasian race. Domestic servants who are members of a race other than the white or Caucasian race may live on or occupy the premises where their employer resides."
Browsing through the state's towns I was startled (though I shouldn't have been surprised) to find story after story about many, many Chinatowns being burned down in 1886, or blacks kept out into the 60s, or Indians eliminated altogether.

Check out your own hometown. You may be surprised. Or not...

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