N**gerhead???

Rick Perry's family ranch went by a really unfortunate name...

When you push a fifth generation southerner to run for president, stuff that makes people uncomfortable just might pop out…

Haley Barbour had his white citizens council problem, but Haley had nothing on this. With a hat tip to the family at TheGrio, this from today’s Washington Post:

Paint Creek, Tex. — In the early years of his political career, Rick Perry began hosting fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters at his family’s secluded West Texas hunting camp, a place known by the name painted in block letters across a large, flat rock standing upright at its gated entrance.

“Niggerhead,” it read.

Ranchers who once grazed cattle on the 1,070-acre parcel on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River called it by that name well before Perry and his father, Ray, began hunting there in the early 1980s. There is no definitive account of when the rock first appeared on the property. In an earlier time, the name on the rock was often given to mountains and creeks and rock outcroppings across the country. Over the years, civil rights groups and government agencies have had some success changing those and other racially offensive names that dotted the nation’s maps.

But the name of this particular parcel did not change for years after it became associated with Rick Perry, first as a private citizen, then as a state official and finally as Texas governor. Some locals still call it that. As recently as this summer, the slablike rock — lying flat, the name still faintly visible beneath a coat of white paint — remained by the gated entrance to the camp.

When asked last week, Perry said the word on the rock is an “offensive name that has no place in the modern world.”

But how, when or whether he dealt with it when he was using the property is less clear and adds a dimension to the emerging biography of Perry, who quickly moved into the top tier of Republican presidential candidates when he entered the race in August.

He grew up in a segregated era whose history has defined and complicated the careers of many Southern politicians. Perry has spoken often about how his upbringing in this sparsely populated farming community influenced his conservatism. He has rarely, if ever, discussed what it was like growing up amid segregation in an area where blacks were a tiny fraction of the population.

Read the whole thing here.

Oh, and one more bite about the world where Perry grew up:

…until he joined the Air Force, Perry has said, Paint Creek “was the only world that I knew.”

It was a mostly white world. In 1950, the census counted about 900 black residents out of a population of about 13,000 in Haskell County, numbers that have declined steadily. Most blacks worked as maids or field hands and lived in an across-the-tracks neighborhood in the city of Haskell, the county seat, about 20 minutes from Paint Creek.

Throckmorton County, where the hunting camp is located, was for years considered a virtual no-go zone for blacks because of old stories about the lynching of a black man there, locals said. The 1950 Census listed one black resident in Throckmorton County out of a population of about 3,600. In 1960, there were four; in 1970, two; in 1980, none. The 2010 Census shows 11 black residents.

Mae Lou Yeldell, who is black and has lived in Haskell County for 70 years, recalled a gas station refusing to sell her father fuel when he drove the family through Throckmorton in the 1950s. She said it was not uncommon in the 1950s and ’60s for whites to greet blacks with, “Morning, nigger!”

“I heard that so much it’s like a broken record,” said Yeldell, who had never heard of the hunting spot by the river.

Racial attitudes here have shifted slowly. Haskell County began observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day two years ago, according to a county commissioner. And many older white residents understand the civil rights movement as a struggle that addressed problems elsewhere.

“It wasn’t the same issues here you were dealing with,” said Don Ballard, the superintendent of the Paint Creek school district. “Certainly were no picketing signs. Blacks were perfectly satisfied with what was happening.”

Wha???

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10 Responses to N**gerhead???

  1. Mads says:

    Perfectly satisfied???? You know ‘they’ don’t get yellow fever either. Racial attitudes that shift 23 years after historical landmarks have been in place, such as Martin Luthor King day are not the attitudes that should be held by the most powerful country in the world. What bs.

  2. Flo says:

    Oh, c’mon. That’s too easy. It’s more fun when you were calling the liberals racist.

  3. Beulahmo says:

    @MADS

    Yeah. Gob-smacking statement from that guy, huh?

    It’s amazing how much illumination we have from the juxtaposition of those statements by two residents of Haskell County–one from a white man who occupies a position of power, and one from a black woman who’s member of a tiny, historically disempowered minority. The white guy, in the safety and security of his power and privilege, is free to genuinely believe his claim that the black residents of Haskell County were/are “perfectly satisfied.”

    The psychology and relationship dynamics are so clear in this instance. Why, then, is it so difficult for leading voices on left to consider the possibility that the same dynamics, though played out in subtler and much less hostile ways, might be at work within the Democratic coalition of voters? (I’m thinking of the recent online kerfuffle involving Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry’s recently-published opinion piece in The Nation and the subsequent vehement backlash it evoked from columnists at Salon.)

  4. Beulahmo says:

    @Flo

    I saw your comment after I posted my comment. You’re an example of the person I have in mind.

    I’d like to ask you why you’re invested in making hostile remarks on this? If you’re genuinely a liberal/progressive and you’re genuinely interested in race relations, you’re taking a huge risk by continuing to express yourself in such a hostile way. You may not believe it until you see actual backlash and damage manifest from it, but I assure you that many black members of the Democratic coalition have been perceiving the things Dr. Harris-Perry proposed that might shape electoral behaviors in the 2012 election.

    I implore you to pause and give this some thought. How much is it asking of you to delay your hostile reaction — at least long enough to give thorough, open-minded consideration to Dr. Harris-Perry’s assertions? Because, if her assertions have any measure of merit, we should be alarmed about the consequences — and ALL the implications embedded in those consequences — of building and maintaining a voter coalition that’s strong enough to counter to oligarch-supported, propaganda-rich, right-wing opposition we face today and in the future.

  5. Flo says:

    Beulah, I gave a ton of thought to MHP’s article and read most of the other articles as well, through all 3 of the Reid Report’s posts on the subject. As I already stated, I think a lot of Melissa, but not much about her playing a race card in this instance. If you want a strong “voter coalition” don’t tear it apart with this nonsense.

  6. Beulahmo says:

    @Flo

    Let me put it this way: if you truly don’t want to tear apart a voter coalition that includes an important voting bloc that may be perceiving racial undertones to criticisms of our first black president, whether you think those perceptions are fair or not, it’s terribly unhelpful to use words like “nonsense” and “playing a race card” to challenge those perceptions. You are entitled to disagree, and I even encourage you to thoughtfully engage in order to state how and why you disagree. But if you do it in a manner that’s dismissive and disrespectful, you’re only adding fuel to the fire…and really–what’s the payoff in return for it? Does it actually reconcile or clarify anything? Or does it serve/protect personal ego?

    I ask you these questions in a spirit of genuine respect and a call to your capacity for reason and empathy. Please put aside any temptation to react with glib rhetoric.

  7. Flo says:

    Beulah I thought any piece about Rick Perry deserved glib rhetoric in response. On the issues raised by Melissa’s article, I think the discussion has gone far beyond what she wrote, but that said, there have been plenty of thoughtful comments in the previous 3 posts by Joy on that subject. Melissa’s article said that the 2012 election might (depending on the results) show some double standard, and then suggested that a double standard (if the election seems to show there is one) might be racially based in some way. So let’s see what happens. Meanwhile it is hard to respond to what people are “perceiving,” and as much as I disagree with most of the left’s complaints about the President, I don’t see it as racially based. Nor do other people I’ve talked to about it.

  8. rikyrah says:

    that this is an issue this stupid man didn’t have an answer for…

    well…..

    CAC is

    as CAC does.

  9. Beulahmo says:

    @Flo

    Ah! I think I understand now. I went through the comments in the previous three posts you kept referring to, and I was mistaken in thinking the certainty and dismissiveness in your tone was attributable to your attempt to be glib. Now I see that the certainty and dismissiveness is your serious reaction.

    I’ll assume you understand how a dismissive reaction is experienced by the party eliciting it (Dr. Harris-Perry, black members of the Democratic coalition). You could decide to withhold your dismissive tone if only for the sake of avoiding the contempt implicit in your dismissiveness. You won’t be compromising your opinion; you’ll just be changing your tone as you make your case for disagreement, but you’ll avoid insulting people you presumably respect .

    Here’s something else to mull over regarding dismissive attitudes: sometimes they signal a desire to simply avoid having to deal with the subject being addressed. My opinion–it’s not a workable long-term strategy in this case.

    I’ve found this to be a very instructive (and amusing and humbling) website w/r/t having conversations about race. I highly recommend it to you.

    http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

  10. Flo says:

    Beulah, please don’t try to “analyze” me because you are wrong. I deal with these issues every day, and the fact that I don’t choose to type out lengthy comments to blog posts doesn’t make me dismissive of them (but might reflect that I dislike reading long-winded comments). I think #7 just above says how I feel about this. If you find it dismissive, so be it. And yes, I will check out your link.

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