I know more than a few fellow Americans who would like to insist that "race issues are over" — that "race doesn’t matter" — folks who want to MARGINALIZE the issue of race, who want to NOT talk about it.
"Race" is NOT a "side-issue" in America. We are not now somehow "post-racial". I think that view is wrong. It’s magical thinking. It is delusional. And I think that you are grotesquely misinformed if you think that "race" is a marginal issue that exists "at the outer reaches" of any real American discussion. It isn’t.
I have come by experience to believe that "race" is CENTRAL to the national dialogue.
Frederick Douglass, 1883
There is one thing about this election cycle that I just don’t get. It’s right there on the screen. You see it EVERY time the TV shows either Mitt Romney or The President. It is very obvious — as plain as the nose on your face — you can plainly SEE it with your own eyes.
And yet it is not being talked about. NO one is mentioning it. It is right there in EVERY single picture of either one of them. And yet NO ONE is talking about it. NO one…
What am I talking about?
The Detroit Race Riots of 1943
Unpublished photos from the LIFE Magazine archives.
Detroit had race riots in 1853, 1943 & 1967.
In 1943, Detroit manufacturing was geared up for the war effort, and an active recruiting campaign had drawn tens of thousands of African-Americans to Detroit from the rural American South for work. When they arrived, however, they were harassed, prevented from living & shopping where they chose, and were charged 2-3 times the rent that the White population paid. White racists burned crosses in front of some homes. A few weeks before the riots broke out, the Packard Motor Car Company promoted 3 African-Americans to work the assembly line along Whites — and 25,000 White workers walked off the job in protest. News of this White strike was picked up and used by Japanese war propagandists against the United States.
The riots lasted 3 days. During the rioting, Detroit police stood by while Whites attacked Blacks with impunity. Most of the damage was done against African-American business & properties, mostly in the poorest neighborhoods. 25 of the 34 people killed were Black. 75% of the approximately 600 people injured were Black. And of the 1,800 or so people who were arrested, 85% were Black. The rioting did not end until Federal troops came to occupy Detroit. The Federal troops appear to have all be White.
When LIFE magazine published their story the Summer of 1943 about the Detroit Race Riots, most of the visual coverage was told from a White perspective. These photographs, newly released from the LIFE Magazine archives, tell a more rounded story.
White Actors Starring in Non-White Roles
President Barack Obama, 19 July 2013
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine