The Red Summer of 1919
November 27, 2019 1:57 PM   Subscribe

This year, 2019, marks an important centennial anniversary in America—but it is one that not only are we not celebrating, it’s also a significant moment most of us aren’t even aware of: the 100th anniversary of the Red Summer of 1919.
David Neiwert has a long, 150 tweet long thread (with links to sources) up on the Red Summer of 1919, a national endemic of white mob violence that swept the US a hundred years ago. TW: depicting of lynching and racial violence.
posted by MartinWisse (17 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
 
Threadreader link.
posted by peeedro at 2:38 PM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


I only heard about the Tulsa massacre a few years ago, and now this, for the first time.

I'm just going to lie down for a while.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:39 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


A short first-hand account (Harry Haywood's) of Chicago's Red Summer can be found in the third chapter of Black Bolshevik
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 2:51 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


I knew a little bit about this, but it's about fifty times worse than I ever imagined it could have been.

Great post; most surprising and most significant post of the year as far as I'm concerned.
posted by jamjam at 3:44 PM on November 27, 2019


One interesting thing about the Red Summer riot in Washington, DC is that quite a few black soldiers had just returned from Europe, fully trained and ready to defend their houses and streets. Things turned out a little differently in DC than elsewhere. This happened mostly a few blocks from where I live now.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/11/woodrow-wilson-racism-federal-agency-segregation-213315?o=1
posted by me & my monkey at 3:54 PM on November 27, 2019 [9 favorites]


Definitely check out Dr. James Loewen's database on sundown towns, linked from the thread.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 3:58 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


The Newberry library in Chicago did a series of lectures/conversations on the 1919 riots there, the website can be found here.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:58 PM on November 27, 2019


"The euphemism 'race riots' hid the reality: these were ethnic-cleansing events."

That pretty much sums it up .

I knew a little bit about this, but it's about fifty times worse than I ever imagined it could have been.

Same. Feels like this is the reason the family stories don't go much earlier than my paternal grandparent's late adulthood: they would have been young adults around this time. My maternal grandparents would have been children. Wonder just how much African-American family history was lost due to this evil.
posted by lord_wolf at 5:04 PM on November 27, 2019 [13 favorites]




The story begins
When we talk about racial injustice in America, we usally start with slavery and then go to the Jim Crow era. But we often forget that there was a period after the Civil War where white racists actually overthrew the government. This is not hyperbole.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:50 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


This is very good. Thank you for posting. #134 - 140 were especially eye-opening for me.

-------------------
134) Another important text—Daria Rothmayr’s Reproducing Racism—provides even deeper insight into how and why it is that, sixty years after the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, the black community remains locked in a cycle of disenfranchisement.

135) That racial cartel created in the depths of the Nadir and stamped into permanence by the sheer dread fear of the Red Summer and its associated violence, as Rothmayr notes, was designed (like all cartels) to maintain its underlying features even when forced to change by law.

136) Importantly, cartel behavior features what’s called “lock-in,” the model of which is used by economists and scholars to explain why an early lead for one technology can persist even when a superior alternative attempts to supersede it in the marketplace. Look at Microsoft.

137) Rothmayr’s book importantly explores “how everyday choices lock in white advantage” to this day: “Choices like whether to refer a friend … for a job, or whether to give one’s child help with college tuition turn out to play a central role in reproducing racial gaps.”

138) Reconciliation and recognition come slowly. Especially when great shame is in play. That’s why you don’t learn about the Red Summer, or Tulsa 1921, or the lynching era in high school—just as you rarely learn about the Native American genocide or Japanese American internment.

139) Black people, quite understandably, want to look away from this because it’s a painful reminder of everything bad about America in their lives. White people, on the other hand, use the ensuing silence as their own excuse to look away too. Deliberate ignorance is the result.

140) That ignorance is what prompts so many whites to react defensively to the simple plea contained in the slogan Black Lives Matter. No, you twits, they’re not saying only black lives matter. They’re saying black lives don’t matter to white people, and they need to.
-------------------

There are a bunch of screenshots of texts embedded in there that I couldn't quote, so you should go read it.

White advantage may now be impossible to overcome, absent some kind of significant government intervention to level the playing field.

Honestly, go read it.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:57 PM on November 27, 2019 [7 favorites]


Here's the threadreader for the twitter thread Winnie the Proust linked above.

"Hey, if you live in a U.S. city that has had a non-white community for more than three generations, search for "[your city] race riot" and see where it takes you!"

Was I being too subtle?

"Black history" in the U.S. often gets read as "history FOR black people" instead of "history ABOUT black people." There's no easier way to portray black people as you please than to edit them out of the story. Apparently it's a whole lot easier to badmouth African Americans if you never have to think about what they've actually gone through.

Not to scare anyone off too quickly, but in the context of Okay no: I'm gonna do us all a favor and stop this post riiiight here.
posted by tyro urge at 12:24 AM on November 28, 2019 [4 favorites]


Cameron McWhirter's Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America is very good on this.
posted by doctornemo at 3:36 AM on November 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


The WWI veteran aspect is important. Many people from marginal races and ethnicities saw participation in America's war as a route to enfranchisement. If you're willing to go to France and risk dying in horror, went the argument, then you should be counted as a citizen.

I'm not an Americanist, but my impression is that this succeeded for some groups. Italians, Poles, Balkan folks saw some improvement in their status. Blacks seemed to experience this as well - so Red Summer 1919 was a way of making sure that didn't happen.

Note the year. This is just months after the November 1918 armistice. A good number of Americans are still in France or Germany (or at sea).
posted by doctornemo at 3:40 AM on November 28, 2019 [8 favorites]


One interesting thing about the Red Summer riot in Washington, DC is that quite a few black soldiers had just returned from Europe, fully trained and ready to defend their houses and streets. Things turned out a little differently in DC than elsewhere. This happened mostly a few blocks from where I live now.

Unironically: gun control for cops and white people only
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:14 AM on November 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


It took me a while to get through the whole thread, but good god, it's sickening that none of this is taught in schools, that none of it comes up in discussions of wealth disparity. For the most part, wealth is something built up over generations and handed down. It's the value of the home left to the children, the value of family heirlooms, the money accumulated. How do we not take into account the repeated reset-to-zero effect on families forced to flee racial violence? All of the stories of black people being rounded up and forced onto trains out of town, in that new town, they surely had to start again from nothing, while what material goods they had accumulated were almost certainly confiscated by the whites that had driven them out.

I mean, I know the answer, but how is this not a part of education in America? How did it take me until I was 43 fucking years old to even hear about the Red Summer? And then, only because I'd managed to find myself a niche community that shares information like this? (and those answers are racism, white privilege, and I'm glad this place is here, in that order)
posted by Ghidorah at 9:18 PM on December 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


Well, it's part of black education in America. James Cameron dedicated his life to it. But white supremacy seems to be a very robust, self-reinforcing system. Soothing lies outflank uncomfortable truths.

So wish me luck in the next inevitable thread about U.S. meritocracy (or "politics of respectability" or "laziness" or "cultural inferiority" or or or).
posted by tyro urge at 8:40 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


« Older Making cute Pokémon ๑•‿•๑ 3D pen figures...   |   A day in the life of an Oxford Astrophysicist Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments