Putting the Racist Flyers at University of Michigan in Context

Uinversity of Michigan Faculty and Staff

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/01/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21519

On Monday morning, September 26, 2017, students arrived to the U-M campus to find racist flyers plastered in Haven Hall, Mason Hall, and several other buildings



Taboos against interracial intimacy and marriage originated in efforts to defend slavery and segregation. Stereotypes of black men as less civilized, cognitively able, and more dangerous often appear in reference to white women, who, in turn, are portrayed as innocent and in need of protection. Such racial fears about protecting white women's sexuality have been around for years, inciting lynchings in the early 20th century. They framed the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation, which showcased many racist themes endorsed by KKK propaganda, and featured a character embodying the stereotype that black men are sex crazed rapists who regularly victimize white women. The KKK is depicted as the savior of the South in the film, which valorizes racial violence to rid white communities of these fictitious threats. The movie was a box office smash. These anxieties played out over and over again in the 20th century. They triggered the murder of fourteen year old Emmett Till, who was killed after simply talking to a white woman in Mississippi in 1955. His case became a lightning rod for the Civil Rights movement. Although today there is greater acceptance of interracial relationships, these stereotypes persist to the detriment of black men, who are depicted as dangerous and threatening, and white women, who are portrayed as helpless victims in need of male white protection.
Insert T_CxShareButtonsHorizontal.html here