Pair O’ Quotes 3

Many a sincere [white] person will answer: “Our attitude towards Negroes is the result of unfavorable experiences which we have had by living side by side with Negroes in this country. They are not our equals in intelligence, sense of responsibility, reliability.”   There’s nothing in here that has a racial tint at all – Pete Hoekstra (R), interview with Megyn Kelly, referencing his “Debbie Spend-it-NOW” political ad depicting an Asian woman speaking in broken English, 2012
I am firmly convinced that whoever believes this suffers from a fatal misconception. Your ancestors dragged these black people from their homes by force; and in the white man’s quest for wealth and an easy life they have been ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery.  The modern prejudice against Negroes is the result of the desire to maintain this unworthy condition. – Albert Einstein, “The Negro Question”, 1946

You may have noticed I’ve been reading a lot of Albert Einstein lately. I think it is safe to assume that I’ll post other quotes by him, and of course by other notable people.

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  • Ms. Raven Marie  On Wednesday February 8, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    This was an excellent post-thank you so much. Could I give a quick suggestion however: the term “negro” is no longer accepted by a LARGE number of African/Black Americans. It has died out just like the term “colored”. At the end of the day, I cannot tell you how to speak-but that is just a quick heads-up for future references.

    • Steve  On Wednesday February 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      Welcome, Ms. Raven Marie!

      It has been over 45 years, probably 50, since I have used the word “Negro” in anything I myself wrote, or in my speech. And I’ve never used the bastardized, derogatory n-word. Today I call people “African American” or “Black” according to the usage, as far as I can tell, of most African Americans today.

      But I cannot recast history, and I will not reword Albert Einstein. “Negro” was the accepted respectful term when Einstein wrote, and I am certain he chose it deliberately as a gesture of respect… as one can perceive in the rest of the quote, he had great respect for what we today call African Americans. That was then, and Einstein wrote the respectful word of his time. This is now, and I would not use that word, but I have no right whatsoever to change what Einstein wrote.

      If you ever catch me personally using “Negro” outside of this comment, you have every right to fault me for doing so.

  • MandT  On Thursday February 9, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Good comments! I have been trying for years to point out the scientific bigotry in the history of the term ‘homosexual’. Regarding its use in historical documents I feel as you do—–it is not to be censored. The recent attempts by publishers to rewrite Mark Twain’s brilliant classic “Huckleberry Finn’ is a perfect example of this discussion. My old friend and mentor, who was nearly a hundred years old before he died, referred to himself as ‘colored.’ His great grandkids use “Black,’ the professionals among them use “African American’

    • Steve  On Thursday February 9, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      MandT, you make my point precisely; thank you. There is almost never any virtue in rewriting historical documents to eliminate words that make us (understandably) uncomfortable or angry today: if the words conveyed respect in their day, we need to know that; if they conveyed disrespect, we need to know that, too. I always remember that in his day the late great Justice Thurgood Marshall (oh, how I’d love to have him back on the Supreme Court today!) referred to himself as a “Negro,” and he was most certainly not one to use racist language. We change with the times, but we must accurately preserve earlier times.

      Twain is a unique case: Twain, himself passionately sympathetic to his characters Jim and Huck, renders a Southern country dialect, Black and White, as accurately as his ears and his pen allow. When Huck decides he would literally be willing to be condemned to Hell rather than betray Jim to the authorities, the intensity of the scene is utterly lost if you go through removing all the words that would be offensive if an author used them today.

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