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Fourth International, November-December 1947


Facts About Jim Crow

(As Compiled by Leslie S. Perry for the NAACP’s Appeal to the UN)


From Fourth International, November-December 1947, Vol.8 No.9, p.283.
Transcribedn & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan in 2009 for ETOL.


HEALTH: “The combined impact of economic and social discrimination in America casts a shadow over the Negro which extends from the maternity bed to a premature grave.” The chances of a Negro mother dying in child birth are 2½ times greater than if she were white. Infant mortality is higher among Negroes than among whites. Negroes are hit especially hard by poor men’s diseases—proportionately three times as many Negroes die from tuberculosis as whites. The Army had to reject 47% of the Negroes it examined during the reeent war; only 28% of the whites. Four hospital beds per thousand persons is “the minimum requirement for a reasonably well-cared for populace”; yet “in some areas where the population is heavily Negro there are as few as 75 beds set aside for over one million of this group.”

Result: “If a Negro infant manages to survive to the age of one, his average life expectancy is still 17% (or about 10 years) less than that of the average white infant of the same age.”

EDUCATION: “The Negro in North America has been allowed to enjoy only the barest minimum [of educational opportunity] regarded appropriate to his half-slave, half-free status.” In the 17 southern states and the District of Columbia (where more than ¾ of the Negroes live) Negroes can go only to Negro schools. “White officials, interested largely in keeping Negroes in a semi-slave status, determine who shall teach them, what and how they shall learn, where and how long they shall receive training. Segregation is the vehicle for unrestrained and undisguised white domination.” It also makes possible the diversion of state and federal funds from Negro to white schools; the spending of twice as much on white as on Negro students; “education” from textbooks that malign Negro history and achievements; shorter school terms; a one-fourth heavier pupil load for teachers, who are paid less – and who are less well trained. Of the 137 millions spent annually on higher education in the states where education is segregated, 126 millions are spent in institutions rigidly excluding Negroes.

Result: 10% of all Negroes 25 years or older have received no formal schooling as compared with 1.3% whites; 82.7% have had no formal schooling or less than eight years of elementary training as against 53.l% whites.

JOBS: “In a society where the push of a button or the turn of a switch moves mountains, color-mad America insists that the chief asset of the Negro is, and must remain, a strong back and a humble mien. Color-mad America demands that black workers remain beyond the pale of decent wages, job satisfaction and economic security.” During and after World War I Negroes got a slight foothold in industry, taking the hot, heavy and dirty jobs white workers didn’t want. With the depression they were driven from these jobs, sometimes by violence; from 7.3% in 1930 their proportion in manufacturing fell to 5.1% in 1940 (lower than 1910). Locked out of industry, they were forced to live on degraded relief standards (in Chicago, 1940, they were 7.1% of the population, 46.6% of those on relief). A month after Pearl Harbor a survey showed 51% of job openings were “barred to Negroes for the sole reason that they were Negroes.” Conditions improved during the war, but after it the FEPC reported: “The wartime employment of Negro, Mexican-American and Jewish workers are being lost through an unchecked revival of discriminatory practices.” The biggest single employer is the federal government, but it widely disregarded a 1940 law banning race discrimination until the war began. “Today, there is strong evidence that government agencies are resuming their practices of wholesale discrimination against the Negro workers.”

Result: Negro workers get the worst jobs, if any, and are generally paid less than whites doing identical work.

HOUSING: “The overwhelming majority of Negroes in America live in urban slums or rural slums. They are forced to remain bottled up in these blighted areas by the prejudice of the dominant white community, enforced by courts of law, physical force and violence, and the mechanism of organized government. Negroes make up 20% of the population of the city of Baltimore but tbey are crowded into less than 2% of the living space. In Chicago the population density of the Negro district is 90 thousand per square mile (35 thousand is considered the optimum). A single block in Harlem has 3871 persons. “At a comparable rate of concentration,” concluded The Architectural Forum (Jan. 1946), “the entire United States could be housed in half of New York City.” Negro neighborhoods are among the worst in the community and are most neglected so far as city sanitary and repair services go. Corruption among police and licensing officials make them a haven for criminal elements. Restrictive housing covenants prevent Negroes from moving elsewhere. Four-fifths of Chicago, for exampie, is covered by such covenants. The US government through the FHA “has thrown its entire weight and prestige on the side of keeping the Negro bottled up in run-down, segregated neigbborhoods.” Congress refuses “any provisions to correct existing housing discriminations.”

Result: “Negro citizens are held virtual prisoners in substandard housing all over America today. There is no relief in sight.” And for these privileges, which give them housing twice as much in need of major repairs as whites, and three times as overcrowded, Negroes are compelled to pay 10-50% more rent than whites using comparable facilities.

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