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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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(p.152) (p.153) Conclusion
Raising Racists

Kristina DuRocher

University Press of Kentucky

During the Jim Crow era, white southerners struggled to maintain cultural, political, and economic control as African Americans and reformers began to gain ground in their fight to eliminate segregation. With the absence of slavery, white adults feared that their children would grow up not knowing their proper racial and gender roles. Hence, southern adults focused on socializing white children into their racial beliefs by replicating and perpetuating the ideology and practices of white supremacy. The white community strengthened the race-related lessons learned at home as white youth attended segregated public schools and their newly published southern texts presented an idealized image of race relations and gender roles carefully crafted to reflect the concepts of white adults deemed appropriate for their children. White adults also took advantage of the emerging mass culture of youth, including advertising, toys, and games, to create an idealized image of white power by perpetuating racial caricatures of black bodies and suggestions that African Americans enjoyed their subservient roles. Because of their successful indoctrination into the mores of segregation and white supremacy, many white boys readily accepted mass mob lynching rituals and, at times, actively participated in them. White girls capitalized on their idealized image of passive, protected females to gain some measure of social power. The violent enforcement of segregation in the Jim Crow era began to fade in the early twentieth century and during World War II as African Americans succeeded in bringing the problem to national attention. Many white southerners stopped attempting to enforce white supremacy in 1939, and with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, they no longer had unchallenged exclusive access to southern institutions and society became increasingly intolerant of open examples of extralegal violence.

Keywords:   Jim Crow South, white southerners, African Americans, segregation, white supremacy, white children, indoctrination, mass culture, racial caricatures

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