Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Jim Crow Laws

The Jim Crow laws were obviously an awful exhibition of the deliberate racism that is so prevalent in the history of our country. However, from previous classes in school and history textbooks, I know all about this. When I read the Jim Crow laws this time, I my reactions were different than I thought they would be.

The first thing I thought when I started reading was that I had no idea who Jim Crow actually was. So I decided to do a little research. (NERD.  I know :) )

I found out that the name Jim Crow was a character that was played by a white actor named Thomas "Daddy" Rice. He played an extremely stereotypical black man by the name of Jim Crow. He wore dark makeup on his face to portray to the audience that his character was black.
"Jim Crow" is a fitting name for these laws. The name of these laws, just the name alone, seems just as racist to me as the laws themselves. 

I also was surprised that other races were represented in the Jim Crow laws besides African-Americans. There were laws in the list pertaining to Malay, Mongolian, and Hindu races. African-Americans are the only race that is usually talked about when the Jim Crow laws are brought up; it surprises me that these races are left out of our lessons in school.

"What if the Jim Crow laws were still in place today?"
This is the last question I asked myself while I was reading. Reading these laws from the perspective of a 21st-century teenager, I believe that they are quite extreme. What would extreme laws such as the Jim Crow laws discriminate against in today's society, and who would they discriminate against?

"No one whose favorite color is green will be allowed to send a text message to someone who has any other favorite color."

"Those who enjoy Starbucks coffee more than Caribou coffee have to park on the other side of the parking lot from those who enjoy Caribou more than Starbucks."

"People with red hair aren't allowed to buy Coke products."

These are obviously examples of laws that would never be enacted today, but it shows how extreme the Jim Crow laws actually were. Americans deliberately discriminated against others because of their skin color, something as trivial as a favorite color or a favorite coffee shop. It's amazing that people such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks had the courage and the strength to rise up and try to reverse these laws. 

P.S. I have nothing against people with red hair, I promise! :) 

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