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Raising RacistsThe Socialization of White Children in the Jim Crow South$
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Kristina DuRocher

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813130019

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813130019.001.0001

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“The Course My Life was to Take”:

“The Course My Life was to Take”:

The Violent Reality of White Youth’s Socialization

(p.93) 4 “The Course My Life was to Take”:
Raising Racists

Kristina DuRocher

University Press of Kentucky

Indoctrinated by their parents and the community to believe in white supremacy, many white children in the Jim Crow South saw incidents of racial violence as natural and inherent to the racial order of the times. They had come to accept that any violation of the dictates of segregation required punishment, primarily through physical brutality. Many children readily embraced their predetermined role in maintaining segregation as they matured, but there were others who, faced with the realities of racial violence, began to recognize the personal and social repercussions of the racial lessons they learned from an early age. Some of these children would later grow up to write their autobiographies, many pointing to a single traumatic event or several disturbing episodes of racial violence that changed their conceptions of self and racial identity and helped them to resist racial inequality. Children also played a central role in the campaign against lynchings. Images of white families involving their children in lynchings as part of their social ritual became a powerful propaganda tool for the antilynching movement, which sought to bring to national attention how white southerners perpetuate harm by exposing their children to what they viewed as horrific acts of violence.

Keywords:   white children, Jim Crow South, white supremacy, African Americans, segregation, racial violence, lynching, antilynching movements, autobiographical accounts

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