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The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow A Century of Segregation
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A National Struggle
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Phone Call from a Stranger
Phone Call from a Stranger
True Colors

Excerpt from JIM CROW GUIDE: THE WAY IT WAS, by Stetson Kennedy:

"The sanctions and taboos governing interracial address apply with full force to telephone conversations, although, of course, there is the difficulty of ascertaining the race of the person to whom you are speaking. The spread of public education with its effect upon dialect is intensifying this problem. It is expected, therefore, if you are employed as a maid in segregated territory, that in answering your employer's telephone you will hasten to say 'sir' or 'ma'am' so that the caller will know to speak to you as a nonwhite. Should you neglect to do this, you will find that many callers will ask, "Is this the maid?" before proceeding with the conversation.

"The interracial etiquette has also evolved a formula whereby whites, in telephoning nonwhites, can avoid saying 'Mr.' or 'Mrs.' For example:

" 'Hello. ... Is this the residence of James Smith, the coloured doctor? ... Well, I want to speak to his wife.'

"If you are nonwhite you may also come up against the etiquette in placing long-distance telephone calls inside the segregated territory; operators have been known to refuse to handle calls for nonwhites if they insist upon identifying themselves as 'Mr.' or 'Mrs.' "

The above text was excerpted from:
"The Dictates of Racist Etiquette"

Listen to this audio clip

The above audio link goes to "Linguistic Profiling," a report on scientific research supporting claims of a kind of discrimination that takes place over the phone. The piece is from the September 5, 2001 episode of National Public Radio's MORNING EDITION.

Somthing to think about
Arrow Do you suspect that your mortgage or rates are higher because of your race?
Have you been denied a mortgage because you or your neighborhood have been identified as "high-risk"?

If possible, compare your answers to those of friends or acquaintances of different racial, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds.

How do the responses compare?
Are the results as you expected?

Share your thoughts on our Discussion Board.

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