Sunday, May 04, 2008

Order Up

This is really fascinating. In putting together his seminal work, An American Dilemma (published in 1944) Gunnar Myrdal asked White southerners to list, in order of importance, what they thought American Blacks wanted most. Their response:

1. Intermarriage and sex intercourse with whites
2. Social equality and etiquette
3. Desegregation of public facilities, buses, churches, etc.
4. Political enfranchisement
5. Fair treatment in the law courts
6. Economic opportunities

Myrdal then asked Blacks the same question, and got the same answer, with one significant exception: Blacks listed them in reverse order!

From Patricia J. Williams, "On Imagining Foes, Imagining Friendship," in Struggles in the Promised Land: Toward a History of Black-Jewish Relations in the United States (Jack Salzman & Cornel West, eds., Oxford: Oxford UP 1997), pp. 371-383, 374-75 (citing Calvin Hernton, "The Sexualization of Racism," in Sex and Racism in America (1988); Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma (1944), pp. 587-88).

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