Seeds of Discontent, episode 14 (African American middle class)
- Publication date
Seeds of Discontent was a 1968 radio documentary series that explored discontented social groups and organizations attempting to improve their conditions in American society. Created by Hartford Smith, Jr. and Wayne State University’s WDET in Detroit, the series addressed topics including race relations, civil rights, poverty, youth, and crime. Smith’s connections with the community as a social worker allowed him to record hours of interviews with people about their lives and their opinions on contemporary issues. This episode, the second of three focusing on African American members of the middle class, features interviews with a psychologist, a salesman, and a newspaper editor.
The series, distributed by the National Educational Radio Network, was made publicly available as part of the Unlocking the Airwaves project, a digital humanities initiative from University of Maryland and the University of Wisconsin-Madison launched in summer 2021. Learn more at https://www.unlockingtheairwaves.org/.
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- Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, Wisconsin Historical Society, 816 State Street, Madison, WI 53704, telephone 608-264-6466. For reference inquiries or questions regarding specific titles in WCFTR's collection, please email our digital reference service at firstname.lastname@example.org
- 2021-12-07 21:32:33
- Stephen P. Jarchow
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- Speaker 7 This is the 14th and a series of programs and titled seeds of discontent here to present. The program is Hartford Smith, junior supervisor of the screening and intake unit maintained by the Michigan department of social services, rehabilitation programs. Mr. Smith Speaker 1 Tonight's program will be a continuation of a series of programs on the subject of the problems, plate, and discontent of the American Negro. And this part of our programs, we're concerned with presenting a range of attitudes and feelings and ideas of various Negro citizens from various walks of life. Our specific area of focus tonight, we'll again, be on the Negro middle class. Participating in this program will be Mr. Orian, warden and Negro psychologist from the university of Windsor, Mr. Lenny Heslop, a Negro car in Detroit and Mr. Albert J Dunmore and editor from the staff of the Negro weekly, the Michigan Chronicle at the conclusion of last week's program. These three gentlemen were beginning to discuss the causes of massive riots and rebellions. Whichever occurred in this country in recent years, we will resume our discussion in that area, starting first with Mr. Warden. Speaker 3 Now you've indicated that many, uh, the situations where, where, where predictable, uh, event, uh, statements had been made, uh, certainly years ago. Um, how would you explain the fact that in the face of what seemed to be good data suggesting this as eventually happening, uh, that nothing was done, that we somehow couldn't bring ourselves to do something about it. And secondly, um, it's, it's rather curious now that, uh, tremendous amounts of money are being spent in terms of researching, uh, finding out why, uh, riots did occur. Uh, when in fact it's seemingly, uh, uh, much of this data has already been collected. Um, how do you explain this, this phenomenon? Well, Speaker 2 Um, I like to go back a little bit and say that, uh, you know, predictions, uh, that were accurate and have proven to be accurate in different points in history in this country. You know, we can go back historically and find predictions being made as early as the time of the revolution and time of the drawing up of the constitution and the declaration of independence and all the documents that underpinned this society. There were people at that point in time who recognized that, uh, uh, the, the presence of slaves in this society, uh, had, um, you know, real serious consequences for the future of the society, unless these human beings were brought in and some other relationship that recognized their humanity and made provisions for a fall, uh, uh, flowering of all the potential of these people as equals, of course, these voices were minority voices and were not listened to. Speaker 2 So to kind of go back and put that in a little longer perspective, from my point of view, it's not just the last 10, 15, 20 years of, uh, you know, people have been saying these, these things, but they, as long as, uh, as black people have been in this country that have been those black and white, who have been saying that we were headed for a catastrophe, as long as this, uh, largest racial minority group was kept in a cast Castlight position. And I think today with, uh, society being as complex as it is with the kinds of, uh, of, uh, communications that bring into any slum home, the same kinds of TV shows and radio shows and magazines, and the whole media that you get in, and the affluent suburban or agile in middle class and upper middle class, home, or upper class home, uh, you know, people see different, uh, possibilities for this is just one little, you know, I think, you know, a little bit of an influence. Speaker 2 I'm not saying that the riots are caused by the fact that the media, uh, telling us to consume more. And if you don't have the money, you can't consume more. I think that's too simplistic, but, uh, not to get to the other issue that you raised. Uh, I agree that, uh, all the words, uh, that to me are relevant on this issue have been said, and I feel a little uncomfortable myself trying to add more words to what, uh, is already an over abundance of words so that, um, we do know what the causes are I feel, and we do know what to do. And when I say we, I mean the Dutch government, the society knows what to do. Uh, uh, there is no lack of, uh, of energy and brain power and will to allocate resources, to do all kinds of other things, you know, fantastic technological things. And, uh, I think the brain power and the energy and the resources exist to do all kinds of things in the social area, the ingredient I feel is missing the will to do it. Um, and this is what is now under, uh, know under pressure is to kind of make that will be done. Self-respect Speaker 1 The basic problem and underlying causes of recent riots and rebellions from Mr. Warden's point of view is America's inability to act once the facts are known the question then, as far as he is concerned, aside from the specific areas of inadequate housing jobs, years of dependency, and many other known sociological facts is our inability to act the question of the riots. Then it's not so much a question of why, but when let's move on to Mr. Hess Luke's comments on the subject, Speaker 4 I think this was their way of, uh, letting American Americans know that they're here and they're alive and they want to be helped. They need to be held. And I, I don't think that, uh, the Negro is looking for handouts. You know, this seems to be the impression that, uh, other groups have, if the Negro is looking for him, I hand out it he's lazy. Or, you know, we came up during the depression and we were very poor, but my dad worked every day. He had four children, two and a wife to support, and, uh, he worked hard. Uh, we didn't have everything, uh, just the bare necessities, but, uh, we were taught right from wrong. I mean, he was the things that pride, uh, cleanliness, uh, uh, to work hard to, to learn. Um, so in a lot of instances, um, there is some blame. Speaker 4 And when I say blame, I mean, as far as some of the things that we're doing, uh, I don't particularly approve that really does. Uh, I feel that, uh, looting number one, I came by that. Now I can understand a man just, just, just completely destroying, but, uh, loading for his own personal gain. I think that that really hurts our cause I would rather see him just, just totally destroy buildings, not take anything, but just totally destroyed out of their day to give into these frustrations. But when they just break in for just personal gain, uh, I can't see that possibly is some reason for it, but I just can't go along with it because it's just stealing. There was no question that then the American America has failed. And, um, I mean, it's obvious you've got 20 million Negroes, uh, or more in this country. Speaker 4 And, uh, we were definitely at the bottom, um, in proportion to the other groups. Uh, we hold the fewest, uh, good jobs. We have the fewest, uh, opportunities. Uh, there's things that I probably could go on. It may have been maybe too controversial, but I mean, some of the, what I actually think is one of the basic, uh, uh, causes and, uh, well, don't, don't worry about it being controversial. We extend this to you to just speak your opinion and what you feel about the situation when I'm going to get real Frank with you. I think one of the reasons, uh, if you go back to the old, Southern days back during the time of slavery, uh, where, uh, the white man violated the Negro, uh, women, uh, period, um, this is why you have so many mixed, uh, in the Negro race, uh, you know, yourself, if a white person has 1% Negro blood and then he is classified as an April. Speaker 4 And I think that, uh, for us, this is my personal opinion. I think that the, a white man that has a fear of, uh, more or less, if, if this makes sense of social, uh, retaliation, uh, I think that he feels that the Negro now is looking forward to invading, um, his world, uh, his world socially, uh, is the association with, uh, the white woman. Uh, I he's afraid of this. Um, and I'm not saying what I've heard. I, this is what I actually talked to experience. Uh, there is a fear, um, if the Negro male, uh, uh, would be attracted or the other white women would be attracted to the Negro male Speaker 1 And Mr. Have slips remarks, one can see a strong emphasis on morality and the placing of moral blame and fault on the shoulders of a man, whether white or black and his remarks. One can see a stream of thought also that runs back as far as English, poor laws and the emergence of the Protestant ethic. Although there is emphasis on certain external or environmental features, especially in regard to the attitudes and unspoken problems in the area of written and unwritten laws and fears in the area of interracial marriage and socializing. He, unlike others, interviewed places, great emphasis on a personal morality and personal code of conduct that transcend known sociological facts. This is not apparently in contradiction to what has already been said, but merely an extension of it. We now turned to Mr. Albert J. Dunn, more for additional remarks on the subject riots and rebellions. Speaker 3 Some newspapers have picked up on this thing, but, uh, I want an alarming number had, uh, seemingly, uh, been interested in exploring a concept of, of, uh, uh, a organize, um, externally control body, um, stimulating a riot action. Um, there've been various theories proposed that, uh, suddenly, um, a leader appears on the street and by a series of speeches, fiery speeches, uh, somehow get this brothers in a state of insanity and may explode. Um, what exactly though, in the last three years, when I'm trying to get at is why, what, what Tampa in the last three years, the things this history, which you've talked about came to a head, this, this, this kind of explosion, are there any, any, any particular areas where, where this country has failed at that kind of brought the whole thing into a period of, Speaker 5 Well, it's a continuous affair failing at time malting number of, uh, of complete, um, disregarding of the rights of the Negro, the continued repetitious. You've got to earn your way. And yet when I need grow, does what society dictates to him should be done. He is still denied that, which he feels is his right. You see if he succeeds, he is put into a certain category, let's go as to the man who was achieved more within the realm of doing the right thing than any other individual, Ralph Bunche, Ralph punches, to regard him as a great Negro American in spite of the fact that he has attained so much international recognition for his work, to what peace he's been a Nobel prize winner. And yet he is still a Negro. When he was in Washington. He could not move into a section of the Washington where he wished to live because he was a Negro. Speaker 5 All his other contributions to international peace to this country were disregarded because he was a Negro. Now, white American passing recognizes that what he is doing is piling on top of other insults to the American liberal. The American that group becomes frustrated. He becomes completely frustrated. He is contained by his color, by his racial identification. And the more containment, the more pressing there has to be an explosion that Gregory talks about this, about the conflict ration that comes from containment. You see, I don't think that anyone has expressed it as well as Dick Gregory has, but it's been said over and over again, that the, and the American Negro has been contained by his color, bright, no other ruling. I think in terms of the stereotyping of the Negro, a big criminally orientated, you see criminally minded and yet 95% of Negro America has had no contact with the law. Speaker 5 See, and yet the Negro is identified as a criminal. If you are I, who I know has backgrounds of being law, abiding of obtaining our education to the regular channels of really pulling ourselves up by bootstraps. I believe that you have come from a family that would have every excuse not to allow you to be educated. You see, I know I came from a family of 10 from a very poor Philadelphia ghetto from one of the worst ghettos in the country to see, but I have kept within the regiment of law. I have, I've been a law abiding citizen. I've taken my bath three and four times a week. I, I dress properly. I don't snatch a white woman's purse when I walk by, but I am a Negro. And if I go into a white community, I would be subject to all kinds of abuses and suspicion because I'm a Negro. Speaker 5 You see, this happens to the average Negro, the average law abiding they grow has to be confronted by this. I have seen too many occasions. I had an incident right before the riot. I was on a plane flying to New York. And next to me was this very prosperous white man. And he became involved in this discussion racial discussion, which I always find myself becoming involved in. When I'm with whites, they always want to talk about race. They probably don't think that I am intelligent enough to talk about anything else you'll see, but the discussion got them on raised. And he was telling me about how he was an industrialist in grand rapids and the problems he was having in his factory, getting his white workers to accept Negroes. And when he finally did get them to accept Negroes, some, they grow boy stamped, a white boy on the street. Speaker 5 And therefore he was forced to hire the Negroes that hit the fire that they gross, he had hired. And so I said, sir, did you have to dismiss all of the white people in your factory when Richard speck killed those seven white nurses in Chicago, which happened to be about the same time this, this incident he was talking about. You see, so what I'm trying to say is the stereotyping of the Negro see, has been the thing that has hindered race relations in this country. Is it that immediately we're done. I had a good friend of mine, a man who was in public relations and who worked for the United Negro college fund, who said to me, during the Cynthia Scott situation, isn't prostitution a way of life and the Negro community and white men really believe this. I mean, whites really believe this today. You can find white people who ran. Speaker 5 It believed that all they grew up are prostitute. You see, they believe in. And so when there is a reaction against this kind of belief, they say, we can't understand what you're reacting against. The fact that Negroes can be systematically eliminated when they applied to the police department. And yet they can be drafted to fight through, to, to do police work, work for the nation in some other country, but they can't be utilizing the police department in this country to police communities, which are predominantly neighbors. I mean, nobody can come up with an explanation why it's a big, we have less than 300 Negroes in a police department of better than 4,500 in a city, which is 40% Negro. And they seem to have a great deal of problems, finding Negroes, qualified to work as policemen, but they don't have any problem finding the girls, uh, finding the drafted Negroes to go and fight a war in Vietnam. Speaker 5 See, and they can't understand why I need groceries at these things. So what happens is that you have a series of things that have mounted, pardon me? The continued abuse of the Negro by a predominantly white police department. And you'd take any police and put him up against any GI. Who's just come back from Vietnam after two years and find out who's the more intelligent, but you put him down to a test which is systematically designed to eliminate the Negro, the Negro noses. But the white man refused to admit that this is something that he systematically eliminated in jobs that he feels he's qualified for. You find this resentment all along the line in Ford motor company, where most of the they grow workers were relegated to the so-called plantation. It was not on the Foundry out there because this is where the bros belong. Speaker 5 These were the Negro jobs and they grow some work for Ford, for 20 and 30 has given their Raul. And yet they can't find the growth capable of holding administrative jobs. See, they say that they are educating the Negros in the public school systems. And yet they can't find girls to staff, office jobs just recently. They discovered that mid grow girls can operate type brands. See they can take shorthand, let's see. And it took. And yet they say that the educational system is preparing our young people for the world of work, but they're not doing it. And why aren't they doing it? Because there is a stereotype attitude that Negroes can't learn. And yet when they need them, they can learn to do the jobs that they feel they grow shit to see. And, uh, I said, these are mounting kind of abusive than it sauce to the intelligence, the Negroes, they can't get this. Speaker 5 Can't be understood. It's just like I was told, going back to this, a matter of, of Negroes playing an organized baseball, we make roam newspaper. Men were told that Negroes did not have the brains to play in professional baseball. Now this was sent to me 25 years ago. And now today, some of the greatest stars in professional sports happen to be black Americans. But why, the reason why they were brought in organized baseball is because too, they, it was the bolster eight, the gate receipts. They also found that the Negroes were colorful football players. You see, I happened to bend with Marion bottling and bill Willis when they went into the Cleveland Browns camp and Paul Brown had to sneak them into the Cleveland Browns camp. You see now today, the Negro is the guts of professional football, but 20 years ago, he wasn't smart. He wasn't good at about to be a professional ball player and white people sincerely believed that. Speaker 5 Now you mean to tell me that in 20 years, just one generation, they have been able to produce capable athletes. Look at satchel. Paige satchel. Page story is one satchel. Paige couldn't play it organized baseball until he was 50 years old. And at 50, he went in and he was able to strike out. The greatest hit is that white professional baseball and double been able to produce. Now, you mean to tell me that he suddenly was got that capability after they decided where Negroes play professional football, baseball. I mean, and this is a story. And every era era see that the Negro has been denied. Not because he didn't have the talent, not because he didn't have the capability, but because what America in command of a situation decided that Negroes could not be allowed in this particular area. Take myself. For instance. See, I have been, I, when I first came to Detroit, after 20 years of experience as a newspaper, man, I could not get a job on a daily newspaper. Speaker 5 And John dancy, one of the most respected Negroes in this community referred me to three of the newspapers, the Detroit news and the Detroit times, which was publishing at that time. And the Detroit free press. None of them felt that I was capable of being a newspaper man. But today I'd be offered jobs by each one of those newspapers. Now, do you mean to throw me that I learned a whole lot of eight years, but this is, this is what's happened that the Negro has been denied. You see? And he is aware of this denial, but the white man does the same thing. You've got to earn your way. He has been earning his way and he's as add the capability wherever he has been given the opportunity. He's proven this capability. See, but there's always this referring back to some incident to say, no, you can't be this because of that, like that white man up in grand rapids, who said that he couldn't hire Negroes because a Negro step, the white boy on the street, you see? Speaker 5 And I w I referred to the specs and the Leon laws. You'll see people didn't go around firing all the white people in their factories because Leon Oswald shot president Kennedy. But if this happened and Negro, every Negro in this country would have had to suffer. You see, in fact, I can remember this attitude that when, if you recall, when president Kennedy was shot, the first thing that was said, the Negro had done it once. When spread, when it was announced that this man and kill those seven nurses in Chicago, the first thing that was said that this was the Negro. And then when they found out was a white man, every Negro in this countryside siren. And thank God, it wasn't a Negro that we, we shouldn't have to think like this. We shouldn't have to feel like this. We shouldn't have to be responsible for the guilt of some bus, miss unfortunate psychotic, or some person that has some emotional disturbance. Speaker 5 Why am Erica is in the ass to suffer for this? But we are at where we're told that we have to suffer for this. See, we're told that we're unclean. We're told that we are. I mean, I have had white people telling me that all Negroes had venereal diseases. This is a belief that white people have. And in spite of all, it's sticks against, but white people believe this. And then generally they believe it. I have talked to highly intelligent white people who come in with these misconceptions about the Negro, because this is what they are taught. And they told me after I talked to them, you're different. But if I am different, 90% of the Negro, so these country and this country at different, see, I don't know what the statistics, 98 or 95%. But somewhere in that area, you see our Negroes who have never had any criminal involvement whatsoever, except probably a traffic ticket, or probably who were picked up for hanging on the corner, arrested and given prison. Speaker 5 I mean, given criminal records, but nothing. And this has happened. I see we're white boys. And I mean, you know, we can speak of this where white boys are, are, who have probably stolen. Automobile are recovered before they're able to get this kind of criminal record. You see, because this is a whole manner of criminal statistics be lie and get it as used against the they grow. And as Jews, the proof points look at the ridiculous thing about open housing. The fact that they wanted to, to ensure the poor, innocent white people who might be victimized by being charged with being discriminatory, that they had to be so protected. They rope amendments into the open housing act that if a person wrongly accused a person for a big discriminatory, that therefore the accuser had to pay the penalty. Now how many Negroes are wrongly accused and nobody pays them damages. And what are we told when we protest the so-called police crackdowns? What are we told if you're innocent, you won't mind being subjected to questioning by the police, but white people can't be accused of being discriminatory. You see, and laws have to be written to protect them. And this is what brought up on this open house like debate and see, and it's the way white America thinks Speaker 1 The key areas of consideration and Mr. Dunmore his approach to the causes of the massive disturbances and Negro communities and cities throughout the country relates to the way white America thinks, which simply means the centuries of stereotyping the Negro. The failure to accept the Negro as a law abiding, productive, and creative citizen, and the history of insults, which led to an eventual buildup of anger and resentment. Again, his comments seemed to be quite consistent with attitudes and opinions expressed by Negroes from other walks of life. From the point of view of expressions of feelings, about problems affecting Negro life. These three gentleman from the ranks of the middle class seem to have much in common with those still trapped in disadvantaged areas. Our next week's program, we will ask the same junk money to respond to the questions of what needs to be done and is America ready to do it? We will also hear their thoughts on what the future holds for the Negro and America. You have just heard Hartford Smith Jr. Supervisor of the screening and intake unit maintained by the Michigan department of social services. Rehabilitation programs, seeds of discontent is produced by Dave Lewis or w D E T radio and engineered by Dave Paris. This is Wayne state university radio.
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