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Author Topic: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"  (Read 6432 times)

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Offline shemps#1

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"Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« on: April 15, 2006, 11:25:13 PM »
Earlier today I had a chance to watch a fantastic movie called C.S.A. (Confederate States of America http://www.csathemovie.com), which looks at what might have happened if the South had won the Civil War from a rather comical viewpoint. The movie takes on the guise of a BBC Documentary, and has "commercials" throughout, many of which are based on actual products from the past. Having long had an interest in what is now known as Black Americana, from old racist songs to old racist cartoons, I thought I'd show you some of these products to see just how racist we were as country, and how it was perfectly acceptable during these times.

First up is a picture of NiggerHair tobacco from the late 1800's. Note the picture of the African lady sporting a major Afro and huge bones in her ears and nose. Later on the name was changed to BiggerHair when the word Nigger started to become taboo, but that was the only change as you can see in the second picture.

Next up we have a picture of a tube of Darkie Toothpaste. The picture on the front is said to have been inspired by an Al Jolson routine. Darkie Toothpaste would last until about 1985, when Colgate bought the company that produced it, changed the name to Darlie and put a much less offensive picture on the front.  In recent years Darkie/Darlie Toothpaste has been mainly sold in Asia, and the Cantonese name, which translates into "Black Man Toothpaste" still remains.

Finally today we have an aerial shot of the Coon Chicken Inn, which was a popular chain of restaurants from the '20's-'50's. The mascot was a cartoonish black porter with big lips and toothy grin. This downright scary looking face would would greet you as you walked towards the restaurant. The door to the restaurant was in the middle of his enourmous mouth. I have also included a picture of a Coon Chicken Inn Matchbook and a saucer and cup set from the restaurant.

I'll add pictures of other items later on as time permits. If any members have any interesting pictures of "Black Americana" feel free to let me know and we'll set it up so they can be posted here. I'll give you credit, of course.

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"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish." - Unknown

Offline shemps#1

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2006, 11:26:39 PM »
In case you didn't know it already, you can make the pictures bigger by clicking on them.
"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish." - Unknown

Offline jrvass

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2006, 07:18:11 AM »
More images can be found at: http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/menu.htm

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Offline shemps#1

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2006, 12:00:19 AM »
Here are some old picture postcards, courtesy of fellow member JazzBill.

We start off with a four part caper with a black man hiding his watermelon only to have some kids (or "picaninnies", as they were called for years, and since we are talking about those times I'll use the word) find it and eat it on him. Next up is a picture of a black woman, who doesn't look at all stereotypical, buying some stockings. What's bad about this one is the stereotypical broken english caption on the bottom. Then we have a young black man on the banjo, a stereotypical-looking Mammy-type cook, a "picaninny" being kissed by two girl "picaninnies" with the caption "New Coon In Town", and finally a weird scene at the bottom in which the "coloreds" are obviously white folks in blackface.

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"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish." - Unknown

Offline JazzBill

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2006, 05:27:25 PM »
I didn't make it too clear to Shemps#1, of what those pictures are. But in case there are some nit-pickers out there , they are stereoscope cards and not postcards.
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Offline Dunrobin

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2006, 06:59:14 PM »
And just in case anyone is wondering what a stereoscope is...

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2006, 07:59:16 PM »
Strange stuff— most of the stereoscope pictures that I've seen are landscapes: pictures of Civil War battlegrounds, Yosemite National Park, Niagara Falls ("Niagara Falls!"), things like that. Why anyone would want to buy or look at these is beyond me, but then I didn't live in the 19th century.

I suppose I should devote the next Picks segment to "Coon Songs," in keeping with the theme here...



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Offline shemps#1

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2006, 11:44:37 PM »
Sorry about that JB, thanks for the correction.

It's funny how Uncle Remus faded away but Aunt Jemima is still alive and well. Perhaps she drove him to an early grave.
"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish." - Unknown

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2006, 01:18:13 AM »

It's funny how Uncle Remus faded away but Aunt Jemima is still alive and well. Perhaps she drove him to an early grave.

Aunt Jemima is still around because she's Electric (I can't post that song, it's definitely under copyright by the Zappa Estate).

Hey, Jim, I'm serious about doing a "Coon Songs" audio feature— I've got plenty of them— but it would fit in better over here than in Pilsner's Picks. What do you say to that idea?


Offline jrvass

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2006, 08:55:13 AM »
Sorry about that JB, thanks for the correction.

It's funny how Uncle Remus faded away but Aunt Jemima is still alive and well. Perhaps she drove him to an early grave.

Uncle Ben has been keepin' company with Aunt Jemima. They are always in the same cupboard together!

BTW I was looking for a photo of Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page) last night and googled up some of her old comedy albums (that I didn't know about) "Mutha is Half a Word", etc. Does anyone have any of these?

James
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Offline shemps#1

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2006, 11:43:44 AM »
Aunt Jemima is still around because she's Electric (I can't post that song, it's definitely under copyright by the Zappa Estate).

Hey, Jim, I'm serious about doing a "Coon Songs" audio feature— I've got plenty of them— but it would fit in better over here than in Pilsner's Picks. What do you say to that idea?



Sure, go right ahead. You can either post them in this thread or "guest author" a new thread for a cross-over type deal.
"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish." - Unknown

Offline Dunrobin

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2006, 01:53:17 PM »
Hey, Jim, I'm serious about doing a "Coon Songs" audio feature— I've got plenty of them— but it would fit in better over here than in Pilsner's Picks. What do you say to that idea?

Sure, go right ahead. You can either post them in this thread or "guest author" a new thread for a cross-over type deal.

I'd suggest posting them in this thread, Pils, since they are germane to the topic's theme.  Just bear in mind that they won't be available for the Pilsner's Pick of the Week on the Home page unless they are posted in your board (in case you are thinking about that.)

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Re: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey!" Pieces of "Black Americana"
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2006, 10:28:42 PM »
Believe me, Rob, I have no intention of making any Coon Songs a Pick of the Week. They're certainly of historical interest, but by today's standards, they're in incredibly bad taste. Not intentional bad taste like "South Park," either— there's nothing tongue-in-cheek going on there, this is just the way white people thought, a hundred years ago.

The music is the exact equivalent of those stereoscope cards from the same period; someone once thought this stuff was amusing, but at this distance, it's hard to see why.

 ???

I'll post half a dozen or so tracks tomorrow (Sunday), and in this thread.

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We'all Lahks Coon Songs, Yowsuh!
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2006, 04:17:24 AM »
Presented without comment, except to say that one of these tracks was posted before in a very early Pilsner's Picks segment: "The Whistling Coon" by Billy Murray (singer) and S. H. Dudley (whistler). I have no date for this record, but it's probably from around 1915 or so.

"Hush yo' mouf, chile, an' whand up dat gram-phone!"



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A Few More I Dug Up...
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2006, 05:06:56 PM »
...And the sooner I bury them again, the better. Of course, we can't ignore Al Jolson, the most famous blackface minstrel of them all. Here, he performs his theme song, "My Mammy," in an electrical recording from the 30's, along with the acoustic, vocal version of "Coal Black Mammy," made in 1920. Jolson did a lot of this type of material, even into the 1940's when it wasn't fashionable to "black up" any more (he died in 1950). My personal favorite of his is a number from 1912 called, "You Ain't No Relation Of Mine," about a black man who keeps trying to join various lodges (the Elks, the Moose, and so on), but they all reject him. The song is still funny, and not offensive— it actually takes a poke at predjudice. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of it.

Even though "Coon" humor was out of vogue by the 40's, Tommy Dorsey and his Clambake Seven covered "If The Man In The Moon Were A Coon" in 1941, surprisingly enough. I don't have that record either, but I've seen it in someone else's collection.

Billy Murray and the American Quartet's "Medley Of Negro Songs" is a real time capsule; it's exactly what you would have heard in a vaudeville house in 1910, with the white performers all in blackface, and with a little minstrel "patter" thrown in. Murray may be the ultimate example of how "fame is fleeting," since he made thousands of records for dozens of companies over a career that started in the 1890's and only ended when he developed heart trouble in the 1940's. When sound film came in, he did cartoon voices for Max Fleischer, and his duets with a succession of female partners (Ada Jones, Elsie Baker, Aileen Stanley, and others), were particularly big sellers— but today, his name is known only to record collectors and music historians. In a true showbiz ending, Billy died of a heart attack while attending a theatrical performance in 1954.

Now, excuse me while I finish putting on the burnt cork; it's showtime!





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