Saturday, September 12, 2020

"They'd Lynch Us on the Same Tree" Bieganski Interview # 8


My father worked a lot with blacks – Negroes, in the parlance of the time. Sometimes called schwartzes. He had a foreman who was often at the house. A light-skinned Negro we all liked very much. He relied on him, and then he had some very lower class black workers some of whom were very reliable. We would see them from time to time. Others were really transient. He didn't have much respect for them [for the transient workers].


But the Jews and the Blacks in our time had a good relationship. Of course, this was in the 1950's. I can't say it was symmetric. You know, it was more a matter of patronage because there was almost no black middle class. Jews were very liberal, and strongly opposed any discrimination against blacks.


I was very friendly [with a black man]. Well, I won't say very friendly. There was a limit. But, um, in terms of being outwardly friendly, with them, willing to talk, willing to play ball, I think the Jews were more friendly to the blacks, and very unaccepting of prejudice in any form. Because we knew that we were the next ones, you know? They'd lynch us on the same tree.


Our attitude was that blacks were fighting the same sorts of things that we were fighting. And they were decent people just trying to make a living, and we wanted fair treatment.


Now it's not that you'd marry one. There was certainly racism involved in that. We thought as most whites still think that blacks are not as intelligent, as self-restrained. I think most whites really think that. I think I think that.


I don't think it's a genetic thing. But I think that black culture is different than white culture. One of the results is that Blacks are less interested in intellectual pursuits, and things of the mind, than are whites, by and large. Of course that doesn't justify any ill treatment or discrimination. But it seems to be, it's a fact. A broad statistical fact. So I have a lot of black friends. I really love them. We would have them home for Thanksgiving. I like black people. But, as a statistical thing, people who come out of black culture are not going to be as smart.


-- Informant was an Ivy-League-educated professor who was around sixty at the time of the interview (twenty years ago.)



"To Chew Someone Down" Bieganski Interview #1


"Poles are Inherently Comic Janitors" Bieganski Interview # 2


"My Father Began to Conceal His Jewish Origins" Bieganski Interview # 3


They Worked Like Moles Their Whole Lives Bieganski Interview # 4


"She Never, and I Mean Never, Threw Anything Away" Bieganski Interview # 5


"They Always Kept One Token Jew" Bieganski Interview # 6


"White Privilege? I Laugh" Bieganski Interview # 7

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Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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