Racial Etiquette In Growing Up Jim Crow

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The term “racial etiquette” has been widely debated for its meaning, its connotation and its accuracy. Racial etiquette is used to describe the rules that dictated the actions, attitudes and overall manners that blacks were permitted to exhibit while white people were in the surrounding area. These rules ranged from not allowing black people to pass white people on sidewalks, to black people being required to take off their hats when in elevators that was occupied by white residents. To disobey these stipulations would be to place one’s life, and one’s family’s lives, in jeopardy. Racial etiquette is controversial because the term “etiquette” implies a certain amount of mannerisms and respect, however, racial etiquette is used to describe the Jim Crow laws that were responsible for segregation and unfair treatment of black people in America. Moreover, etiquette is associated with a positive connotation, but the time period was nothing of the sort. On the contrary, as Jennifer Ritterhouse points out in her book, Growing Up Jim Crow, using the…show more content…
At young ages, white and black children were allowed to associate, even play, with one another. White children saw no differences between their pale skin and their playmates’ dark skin. However, once the children reached a certain age, the parents or guardians of the white children would ban them from playing with the black children. Just like that, white children saw the black children as something different, as something not to be associated with, and the idea of segregation was rudimentarily planted in their heads. These ideas of segregation and racism were enforced as young as seven years old. There was a case where a white girl kissed a seven year old black boy and the cheek and the boy was tried for rape. The young boy was thankfully pardoned, but that just goes to show the magnitude and the extent to which people were willing to

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