The Philadelphian Man and My Grandma

In the article written by Gould, “American Polygeny” there was a letter about a man who was staying in Philadelphia and was very unhappy with his stay. The interesting part is why he was unhappy with it; the place he was staying has mainly employed African Americans. He went on to say “I can scarcely express to you the painful impression that I received, especially since the feeling that they inspired in me is to contrary to all our ideas about the confraternity of the human type and the unique origin of our species” and “In seeing their black faces with their think lips and grimacing teeth, the wool on their head, their bent knees, their elongated hands, their large curved nails, and especially the livid color of the palm of their hands, I could not take my eyes off their face in order to tell them to stay far away.”. Back then this may have been viewed as extremely rude but I would say that it could have been a lot worse behavior. He said, “I wished I were able to depart in order to eat a piece of bread elsewhere, rather than dine with such service” or how he was just not pleased with them there and was not extremely rude to their faces that we know of, since a lot of people back then were openly hateful towards Africa Americans.

Nowadays this type of stance towards race would be viewed as extremely rude or hateful. Back then this kind of view was probably acceptable or even the norm. This could have been especially true for someone from the south during this time. I find it hard to believe that this was acceptable, like if myself today was sent back in time I feel like I would have a hard time adjusting to people treating other people like that. I find it hard that people would be giving me hate for my tolerant view of others.

As much as I would like to think that this kind of behavior is all in the past, I can relate to this story because of my grandma. She could have been best friends with the person from the story who wrote the letter. My grandma is 97 years old and grew up in the past and refuses to change. The world changed and she refused to change with it. She is the most judge mental, racist person you will ever meet in your life. She is extremely intolerable when it comes to race, probably worse than the person who wrote the letter. The person in the letter was very displeased with the race of the employee’s at the hotel, but he still stayed there.   When I take my grandma out to a restaurant like Shake and Stake, I have to run into the restaurant to make sure a white person would be serving us is white or she will lose her mind. It is extremely embarrassing to have to go out into public with her and it is very hard to tolerate her even though she is a part of my family.

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2 Comments

  1. The idea that some people could consider and treat another person less than human is so strange to me. I’m not really sure what else to say about racism besides that it’s unacceptable.
    It’s interesting to hear about your grandma. I have a similar experience where my grandma will occasionally use a derogatory term in conversation, which really bothers me. I’ve thought about it and wondered, if I wasn’t her grandson would I catch her saying similar derogatory terms about people with my ethnic background? Honestly, I probably would and it gets me that much more upset. I think we’ve come a long way with racism and hope/believe that it will be eradicated in the coming generations.

  2. Unfortunately racism is still in issue in this country. i have personally been effected by racism both directly and indirectly. when i was in the 6th grade there were a few kids in my class who would use racist slurs towards me (I’m indian). i wasn’t effected by these statements because i knew they meant absolutely nothing. there have been other occasion were i have seen racism occurring quite rampantly. in other parts of the world i have witness new stories about people being killed but of there skin color or there religion. i personally never understood why people believe in tearing down another person just because they are a little bit different.

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