The host at Chateau Heartiste kindly shares with us the above schoolwork on White Oppression from our neighbors to the north.
One is led to believe, from this anecdote, that Canada's public transport system is in the throes of a white-on-black harassment wave. Were this true, we would do well to educate ourselves about it.
But is it true? While data on Canada is sparse, for the U.S., where the vast majority of North America's Euros and Afros live, it is plentiful. What can it tell us of these two groups' relations while riding mass transit, today and yesterday?
I. Afros and Transport, Today
1) CITY BUSES
How are white-black relations our nation's city buses?
New York City:
An attacker pummeled a bus passenger so hard he smashed the bones in his face after calling the victim a “cracker” in Manhattan – marking the second time in two days that people appeared to be randomly targeted in racial tirades against white people, authorities said. The victim was treated for facial fractures at New York Presbyterian Hospital and released, police said.
Three of the five [black] teenage girls caught on video viciously attacking a [white] pregnant teen and her boyfriend on a Metro bus last month have significant juvenile criminal histories...
Without warning, one of the suspects grabbed an MP-3 player away from 17-year-old Jessica Redmon-Beckstead, who was on the bus with her boyfriend, Jason DeCoste, 19. ... [The couple] can be seen getting punched in the face and head several times; at one point, one of the suspects uses a bus railing to lift herself up and repeatedly kick DeCoste in the head.
Kansas City, Missouri:
An 18-year-old [Afro] who was allegedly filmed brutally striking a middle-aged [Euro] bus driver in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 1 has been arrested and charged with felony assault. According to a Kansas City police incident report, on Oct. 1, Cubie and six other individuals boarded a Kansas City ATA bus without paying. Driver Jefferey P. Park, 54, asked the group to leave, and when they did, 11 blocks later, Cubie allegedly hit him in the face, knocking him unconscious.
The woman (Sarah Kreager) and her boyfriend boarded the No. 27 bus and tried to find a seat as it traveled through North Baltimore...By the time MTA police officers reached the bus, [nine black] teens had punched and kicked the woman, dragging her out of the vehicle's rear door and leaving her with broken bones around her eye.
The nine students from Robert Poole Middle School, who are all 14 or 15, are charged as juveniles with aggravated assault and destruction of property. After juvenile hearings yesterday, all were released to their parents.
Left: Victim Sarah Kreager. Right: Robert Poole Middle School, from whence her nine black attackers (too young for published photos) came
(Protagonists are all Afro, but bystanders could have been any race)
Pickett testified that he was riding the bus with his brother when he saw Chapman board with her son and sit a few seats in front of him. The child started running up and down the aisle, Pickett said, and Chapman started spanking him. "I told her that's child abuse, that's a little boy," Pickett said.
The argument escalated, Pickett continued, and then he saw Chapman calling someone on her cell phone. When the bus stopped at Seventh and Cecil B. Moore, Pickett said, there were already a half-dozen people [with guns] waiting. ... As the shooting begins, passengers rush to the front, some piling on top of each other in the stairwell of the bus's front door.
Perturbing a black woman on a Philly bus can lead to paramilitary action: An 80-year-old woman ducks for cover at top right (click for video)
According to the criminal complaint filed Monday, the victim boarded the bus at 7th St. and Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Six to 10 young males in the back of the bus surrounded him and taunted him, making repeated references to his race (the victim is white, the suspects black). When the bus stopped at 34th and Fremont, they grabbed him and pulled him off, the complaint said. They punched and kicked the victim, breaking his wallet chain and fleeing with the wallet, which contained $17.
2) COMMUTER TRAINS
Having considered the state of Afro-Euro relations on city buses, let us turn our attention to elevated, subway, and light rail trains.
The woman said she was returning home with her mother Saturday night on the Red Line after a dim sum dinner when a group of girls got on the train at the Monroe station and appeared to want to pick a fight. "This girl started blowing smoke in my face, and she flicked her cigarette ashes at me," said the woman. "I said: 'You need to put that out,' and the next thing I know there's all these girls that jumped on top of us."
...She believes they had knives or box cutters, and padlocks possibly placed inside socks. "I put my head down between my legs so they would stop beating me in the face, but they were trying to pull my face up and hit me more," she said. "They ripped out chunks of my hair, and I've got a black eye and bruises on my face, and all over my back and shoulder."
The face of transit crime in Chicago (clockwise from top left):
Ringleader of violent Red Line girl gang, Attacker of bus CTA driver, Four suspects wanted in Red Line knife attack, Numerous suspects wanted in Red Line 'flash mob' beatings/robberies, Two teens charged with disabling a CTA bus and beating its passengers
In the Denver attack, Daniel Brooks said he was waiting for a downtown light rail train at the 16th and California street station after work Aug. 11, 2009 when he noticed three black males and a female "engaging in horseplay with each other,"...
Brooks told police he remembered the group got on the same northbound train that he did. After Brooks got off, ... he caught one of the men trying to pick his back pants pocket. When Brooks confronted the man, he said he was attacked by a second man from the side and a fight ensued. ... A transit security camera captured the men punching Brooks and also kicking and "stomping" the victim after he was knocked to the ground.
The face of transit crime in Denver (clockwise from top left): Rapist at Belleville station, Surveillance images of five-on-one assault at 30th and Downing, Surveillance images of five-on-one robbery at Nine Mile
A 57-year-old man who asked a group of teenagers to quiet down on a MAX train was assaulted on Friday. When officers arrived, they learned the man had asked a large group of around 15 to 20 black male teenagers to keep it down. That apparently didn't sit well with the teenagers and some of them allegedly attacked the man.
The face of transport crime in Portland (clockwise from top left): Mother of 11-year-old who brandished handgun on MAX train; Two men who robbed commuter on MAX platform; Man who beat white teen on MAX tracks (click for video); Mother, daughter who beat lone white girl on MAX train and their victim (click for video)
3) SCHOOL BUSES
Euro and Afro children, too, partake of bus transport together. Tour d'horizon:
An investigation revealed one of the [black] suspects had tried to sell drugs to the [white] victim in a school bathroom. The victim notified officials at the school. Later that day, the suspects and victim rode the same school bus home. Officials said the victim tried to crawl under a seat on the bus as the suspects punched and kicked the victim for roughly a minute, police said. The victim suffered a fractured arm.
Snitches get stitches: Three 15-year-old drug pushers give their tattling victim his just desserts. Bus driver at left. (click for video)
Franklin Township, Indiana:
When Lora Hoagland was fighting to make buses to and from Franklin Township schools in Indiana free for all families, she didn't think her son's very trip to class would land him in the hospital.
It all started when Caleb Jones, 14, unwittingly sat in the seat of a violent classmate, 15, who decided to push, punch and berate when he did not get up while the bus was moving. A video of the incident was posted on Facebook by the attacker, in which he bragged 'dat wassnt nun' ['that was nothing']. Caleb ended up getting staples in his head...
Attacker's internet comment: 'lmao [laughing my ass off] dat lil (expletive)
dat wassnt nun i hit him three times nun major yaa-noo'
dat wassnt nun i hit him three times nun major yaa-noo'
[that little (expletive), that was nothing, I hit him three times, nothing major you know]' (click for video)
St Louis, Missouri:
The footage depicts a 17-year-old student walking down the bus aisle, scanning for a seat. But when the victim sits, the attacker - one of those charged Friday - begins to push him, trying to get him off the seat. The two exchange words, and then the attacker grabs him by the neck, and begins hitting him on the side of his face, before other students separate the two. Five minutes after the first attack, a second student suddenly stands, walks down the aisle, and attacks, too, punching the same student several more times.
Oppression in action in St. Louis. Senior Kristin Phillips: "I hate riding the bus. Hate it. You see that video? It's always like that." (click for video)
An incident in which a student’s jaw was broken at a Davenport city bus stop may have been the result of ongoing racial tensions between some juveniles, police said Wednesday. According to a Davenport police report, school officials told police a group of black students has been trying to make it a “black-only” bus stop and has been picking on the “frailest” white students. The police report said officers do not know whether the incident that occurred at 2:50 p.m. Friday stemmed from the ongoing problems, but it noted that Hall-Clark is black and the victim is white.
While not strictly speaking public transit, taxis are subject to public accomodation laws and thus must pick up all comers.
Taxi driver troubles:
The face of taxi crime in America: Charged with (clockwise from top left) Stabbing and choking a Madison, Wisconsin cabbie; Armed robbery of Tuscon cabbie; Robbery of Chicago cabbie; Choking a Miami cabbie;
(Three) robbing and stabbing of Camden cabbie; Slashing a St. Louis cabbie; Throwing bleach on a Chicago cabbie
Police searching for those caught on camera: Attacking Long Beach cabbie with box cutter and hammer,
Things have reached such a point that the president of the New York State Taxi Federation has called upon his members to "profile your passengers":
“Profile your passengers; it’s very important,” said Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, after Saturday’s shooting of Trevor Bell, 53, in South Ozone Park. "I don’t care about racial profiling. You know, sometimes it is good we are racially profiled, because the God’s honest truth is that 99 percent of the people that are robbing, stealing, killing these drivers are blacks and Hispanics,” said Mateo, who is Hispanic and has a black father.
“So if you see suspicious activity, you know what? Don’t pick that person up.”
5) THE EURO-SPHERE
While Afro-Euro relations on U.S. transit admittedly seem somewhat strained, the tendency seems to have crept across the ocean as well.
She had got on the First West Midlands number 9 bus at about 7.30am close to her home in Birmingham city centre... Shortly after she got on the bus and sat on the top deck, a man who was already on board suddenly pounced, knifing her to death in a ‘sporadic and very quick’ attack. Witnesses said she was stabbed in her neck as the bus was slowing for the next stop, allowing her attacker to escape. Paramedics arrived quickly but despite frantic attempts to save Christina, her injuries were too severe.
Shocking video of a [white] pensioner being karate-kicked to the floor by a young [black] thug in a Smurfs t-shirt has been released by police. CCTV footage showed a second man then jumping on the pensioner’s chest in the attack in Wolverhampton bus station.
The karate-kicker is described as a black male in his late teens or early 20s and of slim, muscular build. His accomplice is described as a lighter-skinned black male with closely-cut afro-style hair.
In a blitz attack,15 [black] teens (youngest aged 13) used their fists and tear gas to convince passengers on a Paris commuter train to hand over their wallets and cell phones. All were acquitted by the judge with a 'solemn warning,' leaving Parisians dumbfounded.
Photos of teens arrested (but mysteriously acquitted) for a string of violent robberies in a Paris commuter train.
Police are searching for a group of young [black] men who attacked a young [white] U.N. intern in the Brussels subway. After beating the victim, they hurl his body over an upper-level railing onto the train tracks, where he lies unconscious and bleeding while other travellers come to his aid.
And our Euro neighbors to the North?
Montreal police are looking for two suspects in a violent attack of a city bus driver. Two young black men around twenty years old got on the bus while it was empty, and stabbed the [female] driver three times in the leg. They fled without a word, and took nothing of value. The police have no motive for this seemingly random crime.
The face of transit crime in Canada (clockwise from top): Toronto subway slasher Cassim Cummings and his victim; Two muggers who overpowered a 79-year-old TTC commuter; Two of three Montreal riders who left a bus driver in a coma; Ozzie Cole, threatened to shoot Toronto busdriver; Sover Aransibia, kicked and beat Toronto train conductor with a door
II. Afros and Transport, Yesterday
Early Washington, D.C. streetcar
1) COLONIAL TIMES: PUBLIC SPACE
Before public transport existed, Afros' behavior in public spaces was of concern to their Euro countrymen.
In 1693, July 11, the Governor and Council approved an ordinance, "Upon the Request of some of the members of Council, that an order be made by the Court of Quarter Sessions for the Countie of Philadelphia, the 4th July instant (proceeding upon a presentment of the Grand Jurie for the bodie of the said countie), against the tumultuous gatherings of the Negroes of the towne of Philadelphia, on the first dayes of the weeke, ordering the Constables of Philadelphia, or any other person whatsoever, to have power to take up Negroes, male or female, whom they should find gadding abroad on the said first dayes of the weeke, without a ticket from their Mr. or Mrs., or not in their Company, or to carry them to gaole, there to remain that night, and that without meat or drink, and to Cause them to be publickly whipt next morning with 39 Lashes, well Laid on, on their bare backs, for which their said Mr. or Mrs. should pay 15d. to the whipper," etc. (1)
Colonial era punishments: The whip, the pillory, the stocks, the ducking stool
Especially in Philadelphia did the Negroes continue to give general trouble, not so much by serious crime as by disorder. In 1732, under Mayor Hasel, the City Council "taking under Consideration the frequent and tumultuous meetings of the Negro Slaves, especially on Sunday, Gaming, Cursing, Swearing, and committing many other Disorders, to the great Terror and Disquiet of the Inhabitants of this city," ordered an ordinance to be drawn up against such disturbances.
Again, six years later, we hear of the draft of another city ordinance for "the more Effectual suppressing Tumultuous meetings and other disorderly doings of the Negroes, Mulattos and Indian servants and slaves." 6 And in 1741, August 17, "frequent complaints having been made to the Board that many disorderly persons meet every evening about the Court house of this city, and great numbers of Negroes and others sit there with milk pails and other things late at night, and many disorders are there committed against the peace and good government of this city," Council ordered the place to be cleared "in half an hour after sunset." (1)
2) TRANSIT: ANECDOTES
The age of mass transit in the form of steamships, railways, and streetcars opened a new chapter of black-white relations in public space. Some testimony from yesteryear:
"I prefer rubbing elbows with them (Negro guano factory laborers) to riding with the so-called respectable Negroes on the Preston Street and other cross-town [streetcar] lines. On the Preston street line in particular conditions have become so unbearable that the writer, who formerly used this line to reach his place of business, has been obliged to adopt a more circuitous route, which takes fully twice as long.
"On this line respectable white people and white women especially, are subjected to every species of affront and insult, which they cannot resent without risk of being drawn into a dispute, in which no decent person cares to be involved. The Negroes realize this and it emboldens them still further."
--Letter to Baltimore Sun, Aug. 18, 1913 (2)
"Having occasion to ride on the Guilford Avenue [street]car last week, going down town, there were 10 or 12 Negro men in their dirty working clothes. On one seat there were two of them ; the other 8 or 10 had each of them a separate bench. Refined handsomely dressed women entering the car had to stand or sit beside one of these dirty Negroes.
I am not an enemy to the race. I believe they should have as good accommodations as we have, but they should be to themselves."
--Letter to Baltimore Sun, March 11, 1914. (2)
"Roanoke, Va., March 29. Drunken Negroes took charge of an excursion train between this city and Winston-Salem last night and as a consequence Sidney Wood of Winston-Salem is dead at Martinsville, and two-score other Negroes are more or less wounded. Knives, razors, and pistols played prominent parts in the melee. . . .
"The train was stopped several times by Negroes pulling the bell cord, and the train was cut in two several times, leaving a number of coaches behind with a second section following. . . . The three coaches which were cut off were filled with white people. . . . When the train reached Bassetts, in Henry County, every Negro in two coaches was apparently in a fight. The screams of the terror-stricken women added to the excitement."
Baltimore Sun, March 30, 1910. (2)
The following anecdotes come from a citywide study conducted after the 1919 Chicago race riots; witnesses are white unless indicated:
"Just last evening around five o'clock, I took a Lake Park [street]car at Fortieth Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, and several colored men saw to it that they were first to board the car. I had to sit near the front and a great big Negro man sat next to me, smoking a cigar right in the car. I told my husband when I got home, I was for moving them out of the city, and I never felt like that toward them until just of late. There's a feeling of resentment among us white people toward the colored people on the cars, and they feel that, and they feel the same resentment toward us. I think I see that very plainly. Last night, on this same car, a colored man was hanging over me, and I know he didn't want me there near him, any more than I wanted him." (3)
An office girl told me she had trouble getting a seat on the cars. She was not able to get a seat by herself and did not want to sit next to a Negro. She said that Negroes would rush in and get all the seats by the windows. She thought they did it more to tease the office help than anything else. This girl was undoubtedly prejudiced. That was one of her arguments to explain why she had difficulty in getting to work in the morning. (3)
Some southern Negroes apparently came to Chicago with a real grudge against all whites and ready at slight provocation to display their resentment. The minister of one of the Negro churches in Chicago said: After years of restriction and proscription to which they were subjected in the South, they suddenly find themselves freed in a large measure of these conditions. Their mind harks back to that which they endured at the hands of members of the Aryan race in the South, and they grow resentful, and in the midst of their new environment they vent their spleen. One has but to ride on any of the surface lines running into the section of Chicago largely occupied by my race group to be convinced of the facts mentioned above. (3)
"I [a Northern black woman] was on a State Street car when two southern Negro women got on, talking loud, and throwing themselves around loose and careless like. I was sitting on one of the end seats, just big enough for three, and one of the women says to the other, 'Here's a seat, here's a seat.' 'You move over,' she said to me. There was fire in their eyes, and I don't like fighting, so I made up my mind that if they started anything I'd get up and give them my seat. Most people would have understood how you felt if you did that, but I am not sure they would have understood.
I said to one of them, 'There really isn't room on this seat.' She gave me a shove, so I said, 'But I'll get up and give you my seat.' You wouldn't believe what happened then. The conductor came in and said, 'You just keep your seat.' And a white man, who was sitting in one of the cross-seats, turned around and said, 'I'll see that she does.'" (3)
"I [a white man] remember one time about three years ago, I was coming home on the Forty-seventh Street car and two Negroes were standing on the back. It was pretty crowded. A man swung his wife on board, and two more white men jumped on too. He got her through into the car, and one of the Negroes said to her: 'I'm going to get that husband of yours.' I went up and stood in back of the white man and told him I'd stand by him, if anything happened. There were lots of whites on the car but about half Negroes, I guess. I think the Negroes have too much freedom. They don't know how to act. Some of those Negroes on the street car are real uncivilized." (3)
3) A FOREIGNER'S VIEW
Scottish theatre critic William Archer, rather open-minded by nature, came to visit the storied American South in the 1900s for its famous 'Negro question.' On the subject of train travel, after a long voyage, he offers the following unhappy admission:
At this point I must face an avowal which I have long seen looming ahead. Without sincerity these impressions would be worse than useless. What I think about the colour question must be superficial, and may be foolish ; but there is a certain evidential value in what I feel. The whole question, ultimately, is one of feeling; and the instinctive sensations of an observer, with the prejudices of his race, no doubt, but with no local Southern prejudices, are, so far as they go, worth taking into account.
Well, that day in the ''black belt" of Mississippi brought home to me the necessity of the Jim Crow car. The name — the contemptuous, insulting name — is an outrage. The thing, on the other hand, I regard as inevitable. There are some negroes (so called) with whom I should esteem it a privilege to travel, and many others whose companionship would be in no way unwelcome to me ; but, frankly, I do not want to spend a whole summer day in the Mississippi Valley cheek by jowl with a miscellaneous multitude of the negro race.
The Jim Crow car is defended by many Southerners as a means of keeping the peace, and on the ground of the special aversion which, owing to deplorable and (in time) corrigible circumstances, the negro male excites in the white woman. But I think the matter goes deeper than this. The tension between the races might be indefinitely relaxed, [...] and still it would not be desirable that the two races should be intermingled at close quarters in the enforced intimacy of a long railway journey.
Oh ! they are terribly unlike, these two races ! I am postulating no superiority or inferiority. I say, with Bishop Bratton, that "the negro is capable of development up to a point which neither he nor any one else can as yet fix;" [...] the two races can get on well enough, if you give them elbow-room. But elbow-room is just what the conditions of railway travelling preclude ; wherefore I hold the system of separate cars a legitimate measure of defence against constant discomfort. Had it not been adopted, the South would have been a nation of saints, not of men. It is in the methods of its enforcement that they sometimes show themselves not only human but inhuman. (4)
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III. THE NUMBERS
Statistics on transport crime broken down by race are hard to come by. We are obliged to turn to general crime and imprisonment statistics to get an idea about what such data might look like.
U.S. imprisonment rates by race throughout the 20th century:
Crimes committed, by race, U.S., 2001:
(Source: 'Color of Crime')
It is probably not far-fetched to extrapolate from these figures what U.S. transport crime's racial breakdown looks like.
* * *
The conventional wisdom in Canada, from the homework assigment pictured, is that mass transit is a place seething with white-on-black harassment. Our look at the data, however, tells a different story. The transport segregation laws that swept large parts of the U.S. in the early 1900s were a reaction to what many felt was an unliveable daily commuting situation. Since those laws have been struck down, Afro harassment of Euros on transport seems, like Afro crime in general, to have increased.
Thus, seeing as reality is in fact a 180° inversion from the homework scenario as presented, what could have been its author's motivation? What is to be gained in spinning our children such tall tales? It remains a mystery.
(1) Dubois, W. E.B. The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1899.
(2) Collins, Winfield H., The Truth About Lynching and the Negro in the South, New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1918.
(3) Chicago Commission on Race Relations, The Negro in Chicago, Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1922.
(4) Archer, William. Through Afro-America, An English Reading of the Race Problem. London, Chapman&Hall, 1910.