Sterling A. Brown, "Out of Their Mouths" (1942)
Deep South--a Soliloquy:
"Why do you reckon white folks act like they do? I sit home studying them. A cracker is like this. He will cut his own throat just to see a Negro die along with him. Further and more, they're fussing and squabbling among theirselves so much that a man can creep up behind them unbeknownst to 'em and hit 'em on the head.
"Take Talmadge, that narrow-minded rascal. All this trouble, war, soldiers being killed by the thousands, hostages being killed, bombs falling on women and little children--and all he can do is woof about 'coeducation of the races' or 'segregation.' Somebody ought to dump him on his head in some sea or other.
"This war now. It looks like they don't want you in the navy, army, or marines. Just like before the war they didn't want you anywhere you could make a dime out of it. When those Japs first started out in the Pacific, I thought Negroes ought to thank their lucky stars that they weren't on those ships going down with the white folks. Then I got to studying and knew I was wrong. Onliest way we can get anything out of this war is to put all we can in it. That's my best judgment.
"The diffunce between the northern and the southern Negro is that the northern is a freeborn-minded Negro, but the southern is trained to say Yes-sir and No-sir all the time. That don't mean the southern Negro won't fight, but he's just more kinderhearted. The gurvenmrent is exchanging them, sending one to the north and one to the south.
"These crackers will chase a Negro like he was a jackrabbit. There ain't no right in their heart or soul.
"Do you think they will elect President Roosevelt for a fourth term? They'd better, if they know what's good for the country. I don't wish him no hard luck, but I hope he will wear out in his job. But I hope that won't be for many a long year. Yessir, I hope he dies in the White House. But I hope he lives forever. He's the best friend the Negro ever had. Bar none, Lincoln, Washington, Teddy Roosevelt. And Mrs. Roosevelt, she's the greatest woman living today.
"The party--I don't give two cents for party. My question is who's gonna do most for me, my people, all the poor people. I'm a New Dealite.
"It's remarkable how the Negro continues to keep coming on. Right out of slavery, the Negro jumped into teaching college. Course he ain't perfect. Cutting, fighting, laziness. A lot of Negroes have gone to hell and destruction fooling around with numbers and that mess. But you can't fault the Negro for that. Not much diffunce between a man robbing you in the nighttime with a gun, and robbing you in the daytime with knowledge.
"The Negroe's obstacles made a man out of him. Depression, lynching, all like that, the Negro kept coming, smiling and singing. They come on like the Japs before Singapore. You bend back the middle, the niggers (I mean Negroes) flow around the edges.
"I'm patriotic. I've got a boy in camp. Yessir, some of my blood is in the army. I love my country but I don't like the way they doing us down here in the South. . . .
Southern White Editor: "These fellows come down here and instead of doing the job with common sense, they go at it in a crusading way. They just blow open prejudices. So the died-in-the-wool traditionalist backs up, god-damning this and that to hell. The way these crusaders go about they hurt some real friends of the Negro."
Negro journalist: "Some of these southern liberals used to want to accelerate Negro progress. Now it seems that all they want to do is put on the brakes.
"A lot of white women are up in arms because they have to bring up their own children."
Dr. P. talking: . . . "The road-cop pulled up and told me I'd been exceeding the speed limit, that he'd been pacing me on the whole trip. I told him the car wouldn't go much over 40. It was a red Chrysler with wire wheels, sorta fancy. I knew he didn't like the looks of it with me behind the wheel. Both of us argued back and forth. Finally he said,'I don't know whether to shoot you or take you to jail.' "
"I said, 'Well, it won't make any difference to me. One's about as bad as the other.'
"He said, 'You don't act like you're scared at all.'
"I spoke right up. 'Why you're the last man in the world I'd be scared of. You're the law. You're supposed to be my protection.' "
"Man, that threw him off balance. He finally said, 'Well, Doc, you'd better watch yourself. There's a couple fellows in a pepped-up Ford (that's a Ford with a Frontenac head) on the road that are kinda mean. They'd like to pick you up in a car like this. So you take it easy now.' "
"Then he growled at me, 'But you know damn well you were doing more than 40 miles an hour.' "
White liberal: "This Negro soldier was sitting on a seat opposite to a white man. The bus was not crowded, and he wasn't sitting in front of any white. But the driver came back and told him to move. He refused. The driver shouted, 'I'm gonna move you.' The Negro took his coat off and said, 'Well I'm fixing to go off and fight for democracy. I might as well start right now.' And I want to tell you that bus driver backed down. It did me good to see it."
Harlemite (shortly after Pearl Harbor): "All these radio announcers talking about yellow this, yellow that. Don't hear them calling the Nazis white this, pink that. What in hell color do they think the Chinese are anyway! And those Filipinos on Bataan? And the British Imperial Army, I suppose they think they're all blondes?"
Folk Tales: "They're telling the story that a cracker running a lunchroom at a railroad junction got a wire ordering lunches for 500 soldiers. He got together all the bread and eggs and chickens and coffee and stuff he could. When the troop train pulled in he saw they were Negroes. He ran to the officer in charge: 'You said 500 soldiers. Those are just Nigra boys.' The officer told him they were soldiers in the uniform of their country. Man kept on: 'You said soldiers. I can't serve those boys in my place.' The captain wouldn't budge. Finally the man said to the white officers, 'Well, y'all can come in and eat but I'll have to put their food in boxes. I reckon I can stir up that many boxes.'
" 'No; these men must eat hot food.'
"But that cracker wouldn't give in. So the boys went unfed. The story goes that all the townspeople went together and put in so much money apiece to save white supremacy and the lunchroom man's money."