What This Picture Represents
This picture, or rather, pictures of Blacks in the south such as these, have been used for years to capitalize on how Blacks are incapable of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, as it were.
In reality, what this picture (and others like it of that post-slave era) shows is NOT how backwards Black people were, rather, it shows that no matter how little they had, they literally put sticks together to provide shelter for their families. They cut down trees to build their own cottages and shingled them as best they could.
What the pictures don’t say or show is how whites (#wp) have worked as a group (with a few outliers) to keep people of color (#POC) oppressed. For example, POC were routinely denied proper clothing so they learned to soften burlap bags (aka croaker sacks), dye them using natural coloring, and design their own clothes. Routinely #wp, pre- and post-colonial era, ran “tabs” of debts that they used to accuse POC, particularly Black people (#Bp), of owning them after their harvests, because as long as Blacks owed debt they were not allowed to leave (by law) that farmer’s property. Hence, Black people would work from sun-to-sun (sun up to sunset) and #wp would give them pennies on the dollar for their share of labor, whereas they would give white workers the standard pay.
Another example is if the Black worker (#Bw) picked 100 lbs. of cotton and cotton was valued at 25-cents per 100 lbs., the white worker would get the 25-cents for his 100 lbs of cotton picked, but the #Bw may only get 5-cents for the same 100 lbs. picked. Added to that, the farmer (plantation owner, slaver) would “supply” the workers with food and cloth, but charge exorbitant rates for their purchases so that after harvest the #Bw would still owe for the food, or tools, or cloth.
So #Bp would garden, soften burlap, and whittle or forge their own tools in order to survive. There was a time when #wp would charge #Bp, or even imprison them for cutting down trees for their shelter. When they became adapt at short-cutting, or circumventing, some laws or traditions controlled by #wp, often #wp would find a reason to riot. There was no law enforcement representative who would or could help #Bp fight for their rights (because most were white supremacists), nor courts to enforce any law suits against white landowners (regardless of whether or not they owned slaves). Additionally, Blacks were prohibited from owing guns (and sometimes knives) to protect themselves.
There were even more petty laws forbidding #Bp from looking directly into the eyes of #wp, laws restricting every way of life that made living worthwhile was used to dampen and defeat Black people, but they were resilient and circumvented what was in order to create alternative routes to accomplish what they wanted.
No, in my eyes, the picture doesn’t show defeated Blacks, as some might see, but shows their pride in being able to create a home and family amidst the cruelty of white rule.
[Picture from: AtlantaBlackStar.com]