Heavyweight boxing champ Jack Johnson


Feb 14, 2011
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Anyone see the amazing PBS documentary "Unforgivable Blackness- the story of Jack Johnson"?

Johnson was America's first black heavyweight boxing champion (having won the title in 1909), and was thus the champion when Titanic went down.

The heavyweight champions who preceeded Johnson would not fight him becuse he was black.

It was sad and shocking to see the depths of racism that existed in America at that time...
So much for America being a land where "All men are created equal"
The idea in the minds of racists seems to be some people are more equal than others.........

regards


Tarn Stephanos
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>It was sad and shocking to see the depths of racism that existed in America at that time... <<

And just about everywhere else on the face of the planet at the time, and in many respects still a lot more pervasive then we would care to admit today in many parts of the world.

>>So much for America being a land where "All men are created equal"<<

And this is where angels fear to tread, at least on this forum as it touches on contemporary issues and controversies that are better discussed elsewhere. Not that it isn't important, as it is. However, we need to be cautious when trying to see the world of 1912 through our own eyes as such judgements run the risk of being anachronistic. For better and for worse, these people were what they were, high points, warts and all.
 
Feb 14, 2011
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Racism was very much a part of 1912- I was not refering to the bigotry of 2005.
In 1912 America, black citizens were treated like 3rd class citizens- in India, the British treated the Indians as inferior.
A sad but true ugly side to our collective history.
I always wondered how mr Laroche- titanic's 1 black passenger- was treated..

It just struck my as a travesty how in 1909, a talented boxer such as Jack Johnson was treated by the press as less than human simply due to skin color....
The film "Birth Of A Nation", that would come out a few years later best reflected the racism of the time....

Back on the subject of boxing, German boxer Max Shmelling, who fought Joe Loius in the 1930s just died at age 99.
Despite meeting Hitler and other Nazis during the time of the third reich, Shmelling apparently never allowed himself to be brainwashed or corrupted by such bigotry.
He remained good friends with Joe Loius for years, and even paid for Loius's funeral.

regards

Tarn Stephanos
 
Jan 28, 2003
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I think, Tarn, that racism in 1912 was a bit more complex that just skin colour. For a start, the British in India did not treat all Indians as inferior - probably just the majority, but whom the Indian elite themselves regarded as inferior. Many Indian notables were treated with considerable deference by the British. For pragmatic reasons, no doubt, but even so ....
Monsieur Laroche was, I believe, married to a white woman - but French. Who can say which elements of racism were the uppermost - that he was black, or that she was French, and apparently disregarding of race conventions? They were not poor, so maybe their marriage was accepted by other passengers? I'm not sure, but I do think a lot of what is passed off as simple racism may have had more to do with something that is equally prevalent today - the symbiosis of wealth and 'acceptability'. It's the poor who suffer - no matter what their colour.

But Mike is right with this thread. It may be interesting, but is it appropriate?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>A sad but true ugly side to our collective history.<<

I wouldn't disagree with that, but at the point in history in question, such attitudes were widely accepted as "The way things were." Not right from *our* point of view, but with the exception of a few forward thinking activists, I doubt a lot of people really gave it a second thought.

While it may not make sense to us in a more "enlightened age" it made sense to them and that's why we need to be careful about the judgements we make.

(Notice too that I said "Be careful about the judgements we make." Not "Don't make any judgements at all.")

It's not likely that these people would have even understood our attitudes all that well. We can hope to understand it but it's not like we can go back and change it.
 

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