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My Alabama Shaw Family on My Father’s Side From 1861-2014

Granddaddy told the 20th century white man’s philosophy of Negro working people was flawed and contradictory. Has white man’s philosophy changed?

Posted Oct 19, 2016

Annie Shaw-Barnes, Ph.D.
Author and Speaker
Cultural Anthropologist
Family Specialist
Family Education Specialist
Spousal Abuse Specialist
Christian Church Specialist
Racism Specialist

Hi everyone,

White cotton, peanut, and corn buyers knew Granddaddy had a house full of children and thought the clothes he wore told he was a poor man. Until, recently, that was the way poor and working class men and women dressed to get what they deserved for their work.

Even then, they knew they were cheated, and some domestic workers stole insignificant things, like a $1.00, from them to make up the pay they should receive from their labor. What I have not been able to understand about my Negro people, then and now, if you are going to steal, why not steal a lot and make it worth it. Quickly, I want to say that I neither recommend stealing from blacks nor whites and, truthfully, I have never stolen anything from anyone. I have always believed that what anyone has is what they want, and I should not take it from them. Moreover, stealing is a sin that stands in the way of giving God a chance to bless one, far more than anything they steal, even if it is sacred, antique, and of high value to the people. In this regard, whites labeled black domestic workers as “takers” of their belongings. Instead the black women were merely trying to get enough from them to pay for their labor. According to labor statistics, they were always underpaid without the benefits of social security and retirement. That’s why so many black women are on welfare. Whites put them there by not paying them good wages for good work they enjoyed. Besides, there were only a few who laid their manners down and, therefore, they knew they were underpaid and still are, but they take what they are paid. Yet whites speak, generically, about our people. That is unfortunate, and we should ask kindly, for more money, than we receive for hard work during long hours and, usually, good people can be reckoned with. Yes, I am telling you to do something that I wish I had done. I did hard domestic work for $12.00 a week, two summers, and one woman did not pay me for my last week of work.

As a Negro man, that was the only way Granddaddy could be economically self-sufficient. He knew that, if white buyers had found out he was trying to better himself and his family, they would have taken everything he owned. The twenty-first century, for Negroes, has not changed, very much, from the first half of the 20th century Granddaddy struggled to get equal pay for equal farm products.

He told Grand Mama, Daddy, and my aunts and uncles, “White people criticize Negro people for not working and, when they work, they cheat them out of the pay they earn. Whites contradict themselves. They pretend not to know they and their ancestors have made their money off our backs today and inherited from their slave ancestors that my ancestors helped them accumulate. They owe us equal justice in everything.”

Black men, you are better off, than my granddaddy, so get a job, and work it, better than anyone else, and ask, in a winning way, not whining, for equal pay for equal work. Moreover, white people have a pattern of using blacks to teach whites, and, when they learn the jobs, they give the jobs to white men. Listen to one of my smart students at Norfolk State University. He had been in the military and had become an expert with computers, which the military needed. At the time, the Vietnam war was going on, and he knew that, if he trained the white man, they assigned him to train, the military would give the job to the white man and send him, the black man to Vietnam. In essence, he never taught the white military man enough for him to implement his job and, otherwise, he would have trained the man well. Hence, the black men was never sent to Vietnam. So, keep your eyes open, like my former student.

Always be a good team player, but be sober and vigilant in your workplace.
In sum, Granddaddy told you white man’s philosophy, which is applicable this century, so work to beat it and win him over to acknowledge your work excellence and want to pay you what you are worth. Hard work and love are the best ways to succeed.

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