Which Is More Racist, Texas or New Hampshire?

Categories: Schutze

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In "Down East" New England when I was a kid, diversity was white guys in hats talking to white guys without hats.

A small dagger pierced my heart when my wife told me our 27-year-old son's reaction to the news story she had emailed him about the n-word-using police commissioner in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. He emailed her back: "Wow. Way up there."

I took that to mean that our fifth-generation native-Texan son had internalized the lesson preached to him his entire life by film and literature, that vile racism is a mainly Southern phenomenon. As a person who grew up in the North myself, including a stint of several years in New Hampshire, I know way better.

I wrote here a long time ago about mean-spirited racial segregation and racism I experienced first-hand growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Home to the University of Michigan since 1837, Ann Arbor when I was growing up there referred to itself immodestly as the "Athens of the Middle West." In the 1960s people from Ann Arbor were on the Freedom Rider buses that crashed into Jim Crow Dixie.

See also: Crossing Division Street

No one ever discussed the fact that Ann Arbor at that time was still rigidly segregated, chopped in half by a thoroughfare called Division Street. A black male who crossed that street without a rake or a shovel in his hand had trouble ahead with the cops for sure. Think of our own "Park Cities" district but all over town.

And New Hampshire! I lived there, too. When I was a kid, New Hampshire in particular, New England in general, gave whole new meaning to the word redneck. Still does, apparently. New Hampshire hicks were racist about French Canadians, and that was just a warm-up for their feelings about U.S. ethnic minorities.

I get a little uncomfortable trying to compare different specific brands of American racism by region, just because it seems like debating how many devils can dance on the head of a pin. Racism is racism. But I can say this. There is an appreciable difference between the racism of Southern whites who have lived around lots of black people and isolated rural Northern whites who have not. At least the Southern whites are not physically terrified by the sight of black people on their TV sets. That's what that police official in New Hampshire expressed.

The exact quote as reported in a local newspaper was, "No, I don't watch TV because every time I turn it on all I see is that fucking nigger" -- a reference to the president of the United States.

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire Police Commissioner Robert Copeland's problem -- the issue that has now cost him his job, made a goat of him internationally, humiliated his family and sullied the name of his community -- was seeing the president on television. That's a pretty big price to pay for a problem he should have been able to resolve with a couple sessions of group therapy.

It's probably not a truly or entirely regional phenomenon now. I think there are lots of white people here in Texas, in the Old South, the Upper Midwest, New England, the Pacific Northwest, Manhattan, all over, who have managed to live until this late date in environments where they have experienced very little diversity. The particular aspect of diversity they have missed -- and the one that seems to get to them when they turn on their TV sets and see the first family -- is the one in which a black person occupies a position of higher social status than their own. Then it's off to the Wiggy Ward for some of them.

Does the New Hampshire guy have the right to slosh down a couple drinks and use the N-word about the president in an overheard private conversation? Absolutely. Hey, this is America! Does the owner of a professional sports franchise have the right to just keep saying more and more racist stuff to reporters. Totally!

But then the rest of us as Americans have the right to vow never to by a ticket from that team owner and to begin turning away from the whole sport, the more it begins to look like a racist plantation system. Don't want us to stop buying tickets? Well, hey, how about kicking the bastard out of the league for us? The league has the right to do that. This is America!

Personal disclosure: I have a vacation trip planned for New Hampshire in a week, with a bunch of non-refundable reservations. When my wife emailed me that, "I sure hate to be spending money in New Hampshire," I said nothing. Look, they made the old bastard resign. I respect Wolfeboro for that. Plus, we're not going to Wolfeboro. Plus, the reservations are not refundable.

Plus this: I still love New Hampshire. I have a deep affection for the people there. The other side of all that isolation and xenophobia is a flinty self-reliance and deep-rooted sense of personal dignity. Remember that people in New Hampshire turned that guy out of office. People sure are complicated, are they not?

The racism most of us need to worry about anyway is right there in the mirror looking back at us. Nobody has a monopoly. Nobody even has the edge as far as I can tell. If we start with ourselves, we're taking the bull by the horns.

But I have to say this piece, as well: the former Confederate states need to shake off the whole notion that they carry a burden here not shared pretty equally by the Union. We all get why that story persists. It does reflect important history, and we are products of that history.

But this isn't history. This is now. Right now as a result of more recent history, even with our stubborn pockets of mono-ethnic separatism, there's a hell of a lot more true diversity going on in Texas than there is in New Hampshire. Or Oregon. Or TriBeCa, for that matter.

The South should be proud of the strides it has accomplished and the wisdom gained since the civil rights movement days, and it needs to be confidant in its ability to export some of that wisdom northward when needed. Speaking as a Yankee carpetbagger myself, I feel I have the right to say that Yankees need to have their chains yanked about racism every once in a while just like everybody else.

In the end what counts is living together, being together, knowing each other, turning on the TV and seeing people who look like all of us. When what feels normal and appropriate, we don't need any more group therapy.

My son doesn't live in Texas any more. I just want him to know it's a good a place to come home to. Not perfect. Not there yet. But closer than it used to be and a lot closer than New Hampshire any old day.


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124 comments
awash1
awash1

Texas, Mississippi or New Hampshire. You're looked at as a criminal no matter the level of education, income, non-felonious criminal record. Even if you are dressed in conventional business attire it makes not a bit of difference you are still looked as suspect. Just because you or yours saw a story on television or have experienced  some sort of crime at the hands of one (1) black person, you probably shouldn't in your mind indict every other black person.


Or maybe I should classify all white males as serial killers since they have seemed to cornered the market on serial killers.

rogjohns64
rogjohns64

Like the rest of the staff here at the Observer, in Jim's world you can have a lifetime of bad experiences with other ethnic groups, but you are NEVER allowed to let those experiences become a factual basis for your racism.

You're supposed to ignore all the evidence you may have seen throughout your life and get with the diversity is great narrative. At least if you want to keep your job here.

Michele Obama told a group of young kids the other day to "police" their grandpas when they speak bad of other races ....... I guess when they get through doing that they should go into the kitchen and tell grandma how to cook.

GraniteStater
GraniteStater

As a New Hampshire resident, who has lived in the state for 34 of my 45 years, there are things I agree with in this article and things I see, where some re-education is required. I won't address some of the comments below, a few are so far removed from reality, they don't deserve attention.


I'm baffled about the assumption New Hampshire "hated" French Canadians, when we used to teach the language in our schools, we continue fly the Canadian flag just about everywhere [as does Maine and VT] and our Welcome sign to the state is "Bienvenue". I am of French Canadian ancestry within my family, as is my wife with hers and never, ever have I heard of the people of this state being unkind to them at any point in their history. Canadians are the lifeblood of our travel and tourism season and if this assumption were true, they wouldn't keep coming back in larger numbers, year after year. I don't know when you lived here, but I do not recognize the New Hampshire you trying to describe here, I have to assume it was from before my time on this planet.


Diversity in New Hampshire never arrived, I agree with you, they most likely arrived at the border, looked at the harsh winters and chose a more temperate climate and in February, I find myself agreeing with their decision, the winters can be brutal [humor]. However, New Hampshire hasn't been "redneck" since the 60's. The state is now ranked as one of the most educated states in the nation, [2013-ranked #1] in part, due to the expansion of Metro Boston into the bottom third of our state that brought high wage, highly skilled jobs and revenues. We now dub any area south of Manchester "New Mass-shire". The diversity has grown, but it is still less than 6% of our population, with no one group being more than 1 or 2% of that number. With that said, having lived in other areas of the country with a much larger volume of diversity in their communities, I have found that one does not need to be immersed in diversity to be respectful of others. Educated people carry around a general respect for their peers, regardless.


Racism is in every state, every corner of our country by those who choose to not tolerate differences. The Robert Copelands of New Hampshire are out there, certainly they exist. I will also say he had every right to say what he did and to express his opinion, thats what freedom of speech commands. With that speech comes the responsibility of owning what you say, which he also did and if unpopular, being held accountable by ones peers, as he was in Wolfeboro. Ignorant people will say ignorant things, where they live is not indicative of why they are saying it. New Hampshire people aren't afraid to wear their minds on their sleeves, we say what we think, we mean what we say. While I cannot speak for my home state, if there is anything they do judge [in my opinion] seven ways til Sunday, is how well educated you are, or are not. There is a low tolerance for stupidity here, that is something I have seen time and again expressed without a blink to the eye. Robert Copeland, in the eyes of New Hampshire residents, is an ignorant, intellectually stunted individual, but not all men over 80 qualify to be described this way.


Outside of your state, people view Texas, as a state who's economy thrives on unskilled, low wage jobs and produces and education quotient that ranks in the bottom third of our nation. H.S. graduation rates are 51st in TX and statistically, the only thing you rank high in, is affordability [purchasing power], so the generalization to many, is Texans aren't all that bright. The high regard for Texas, lays mainly within the minds of Texans to most. With that said, knowing how others perceive the residents of your state, they do so, it seems, without having met its people, or having been to your state and rely on national statistics [maybe] of what each state is ranked on. I have been to Texas, I have friends living there, so I know this generalization of your state is not an accurate reflection of it's people as a whole. No one likes being judged, whether it's because of their race, their religious views, or their educational value.


Racism is more rampant where the educational quotient of it's citizens aren't that high. The better educated an area is, the less you'll find ignorance festering in large quantities. In this regard, New Hampshire and Texas are not comparable. The dynamics of our societies are on different planes.

TexMarine
TexMarine

I (and the 2010 Census) reject the notion that Texas and the Old South haven't experienced diversity. If New England and the Pacific Northwest had as much diversity as Texas and the Old South you'd be foolish to believe that there wouldn't be some instances of racist language and perhaps even behavior.  Apples to Oranges.

lecterman
lecterman

All I can say is that I lived in NH for two years, from 2006-2008, and I can only recall 2 instances where someone race was thrown out as a negative.  Whereas here in Texas (18 years lived total) I hear it several times a week.  If NH is more racist, they are sure good at hiding it.

joeinbost
joeinbost

New Hampshire  is a Throw back state where the GOP old guard are just plain crazy. I have a summer home in Maine and I can tell you the "GOOD CHRISTIANS" still refer to Catholics as Papists. The Police Chief at 80 something should have been in a Nursing Home.

gpknopp
gpknopp

I fail to see why New Hampshire matters. 


Now Hawaii, much more interesting.

PerryJohansen
PerryJohansen

I sincerely hope that people outside of Texas or Dallas that read this blog do not assume that these comments are in anyway the views of most people here.  We live in a well rounded and diversified city that celebrates our differences. 


If this is the best the Dallas Observer blog can do, I would hope they would shut down.  I feel like I just walked into a KKK meeting.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

As a person who has spent a considerable amount of time both in Texas and New Hampshire (Gilmanton) ; I'd say it's New Hampshire!  They hate everyone. I was taught at a very young age not to "walk on someone else's land", even by mistake.......you will be shot. 


ps-I had a guy tell me one time why New Hampshire was heaven; "no blacks, no islanders (including Mexicans), and no French Canadians. That was 30 years ago, and that REALLY stuck with me.  Just hate everyone?  Wow, what a mindset!

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

But, New Hampie has changed.  Arkansas is now kinda in that vortex. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

It's a lack of travel.  I would say that Memphis is the third most racist city I've spent time in (and the most racist in the South.)  New York City is #2.  


Mexico City is #1 by a long, long mile.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Jim, this does not surprise me at all.  I spent a great deal of time in the midwest and northeast in the late 70's and 80's.  I heard racist remarks on a regular  that would have made a Grand Dragon, much less a Kleagle blush.


And this is from a person who went to a school where the required American History course had been titled: "American History from 1650 to the War of Northern Aggression."


I have a long time friend whose similar course was titled: "American History from 1650 to the War of Southern Insurrection."

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

It appears the Dallas Observer had a meeting.  Amy McCarthy, Elaine Liner and you have come out throwing wild punches.  Haymakers.  Double 00 R-word 3" inch shells.  Streets weepers.  Area weapons.

Man I keep telling you that, when you call people racist who are not, there will be blood.  There are certain things you can call your wife that you cannot take back.  And the R Bomb is a double-edged sword out here in the blogosphere. 

It is said civility is the lubricant of social discourse and you guys have GOT to see you are losing every one who cannot overcome proving a negative.  

You are on the receiving end of a huge backlash - nationwide and it is growing.

Because you are wrong and it is shameful to do what you are doing.

I think I mixed enough metaphors.

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

So New Hampshire is getting a Toyota plant, is that what you are saying?

rubberduky
rubberduky

I guess my question is this............. WHAT IS YOUR FUCKING POINT of this story. The only real mention for Dallas was Park Cities, in which case I could send that top paragraph to the local Park Cities political group and see what they say about being compared to the North where a black man can't cross a street without a rake or shovel. The real idiot is Jim Schutze for writing this waste of time. What's on tap for tomorrow Jim ? an article about the different shades of blue sky here in comparison to Houston. Fuckin idiot.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@lecterman

I hear the N-word as a pejorative on youtube and live leak on a regular basis.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@joeinbost "The Police Chief at 80 something should have been in a Nursing Home."  No irony here at all.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@joeinboat

An 80-year-old man can be expected to be a throwback to an earlier era, when things were quite different. Old habits such as racism and certain bigotries and prejudices die hard.

The same argument could be made concerning the author of this article, who is a bit of a throwback in his own right, a flip side of a coin.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@gpknopp

Natives aren't fond of mainlanders, especially whites. Had a friend who opened a camping store on Kauai, experienced a few probs (two kids), but said Maui and Hawaii were pretty bad, especially Honolulu. Had to watch where you went, if you were white, pretty much like anywhere else where whites ain't 'specially welcome.

Better than Jamaica, tho.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@PerryJohansen

We as a nation have been urged countless time to have a "national diologue on race", and this, right here, can be considered part of that diologue.

The problem with debate on any issue is that you may hear or be exposed to ideas and opinions that offend you, but in debate or "diologue", you're supposed to offer a counterpoint, and you're exemplifying a perception many people have that the "diologue" will, at some early point consist of shut up!.

The complaint you voice that some of the opinions expressed here reflect poorly on Dallas is a bit funny, because for a few on this blog - writers and commentariat alike - pointing out the negatives of Dallas and Texas is a constant.

I've made the same argument as you, that anyone reading this blog might think twice about moving to an unregulated, polluted hellhole that ranks dead last in everything, run by fundamentalist Taliban Evangilists and the worst human with the best hair - but I wouldn't go so far as to tell the DO to "shut 'er down!". Think about it.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@kergo1spaceship

It's not monolithic, Franconia isn't like Manchester. I like NH because no sales tax, cheap beer. Never saw any overt racism , even skiing Tuck's (LOL)

Dunno about crossing people's land, but in VT next door, it's the opposite - people were pretty laid back if you skiid or hiked, very few fences. The state tries to discourage fencing. Back when Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn moved to Cavendish, he put up a big metal fence, caused quite a little dust-up. Vermonters were then bigoted against fences.

fred.garvin.mp.713
fred.garvin.mp.713

It's also referred to by some in the South as 'The War Between the States.'

Personally, I prefer to call the Civil War 'When The South Gave Up On Democracy.'

JFPO
JFPO

So you're one of those "the race war is coming" guys. You really are blind to how this country is evolving. There will be no room for dinosaurs.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

OK I clicked on it. I have now heard enough Upper Peninsula humor to last me for another 25 years.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@rubberduky His point is that TX is a normal, everyday, US place, worse in some ways than some US places and better than others.  His observation is not unique, that the rest of the country views TX and the rest of the south as a bunch of mouth-breathing peckerwoods carrying rebel flags and listening to Molly Hatchet, other writers have noted it in the past.  However, sometimes the rest of the country needs a reminder of their own dark dance with racism.  You can't just let the New Hampshires, and especially the Iowas, strap a cross to the South's back and send them up on Calvary.

NightSand
NightSand

@rubberduky  ?   Its a national news story and he is being complementary to Dallas/Texas in saying that we are diverse.

gpknopp
gpknopp

@TheRuddSki  Oh, you heard something from a friend. Well, I've lived here for twenty years and I can tell you that's BS. But white entitlement knows no bounds, I guess. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Does it ever occur to you that you seem to have a theory about the inferiority of non-white non-anglo-saxon people in all 50 states, of whom you and your many friends have been victims? Is it possible that you and your friends do something or give off a pheromone that causes people of varied ethnicities to view you as assholes?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @everlastingphelps  

This Racism invective started in 2010, and coincides with the Left's first big loss at the polls.  The Uk Left has begun the same tactics as the middle class increasingly demands that the deficit, the Debt and the lack of jobs be addressed to reverse, or at least stem, the gravitational pull into the abyss.

The charge is not even politically motivated.  It's fatalism.

In other words, Liberals are pulling up but the Radical Left is going John Brown on us.  No one is pure enough.  

Saddamists.  Dead-enders.

bitter to the end.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@JFPO

... one of those "the race war is coming" guys....

It's already here, amigo, but it's between blacks and Latinos. These not a lot of love lost between these groups. That's where the majority of the violence actually occurs.

The guys holed up in Idaho, not so much to worry about.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@JFPO  

Race war?  Where did you get that?

Just the opposite.

These race-baiting rants are not intended to persuade.  Name-calling of this calibre is intended to incite and divert.  To refocus a disillusioned faithful onto something defensible akin to jingoism but in this case against the gathering clouds.  Similar to a fundamentalist Jim Jones whip hand to stop the a generalized cut and run.

Oh mustachioed one, you are losing big chunks your base at each election because your purists are doubling down on zealotry. 

Blurting out "Jane you filthy slut", is a non-starter.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@JimSX You can never have enough of the Upper Peninsula or its erudite humor and comedic repartee.  Look for "Escanaba in Da Moonlight", written, directed, produced, starring and possibly catered by Jeff Daniels for material up there with Mad Men and Downton Abbey.

JFPO
JFPO

"....a bunch of mouth-breathing peckerwoods carrying rebel flags and listening to Molly Hatchet,"

Hell, I grew up in Ohio and that pretty much sums it up.

Winthrop
Winthrop

@TheRuddSki

Speaking of "nice tries", the "But they do it, too!" defense is that of a 9 year old, and a not particularly precocious one at that.

We can't control how others see or treat us, we can only control that in ourselves. Neither can we control what happens to us when we enter a "bad" neighborhood regardless of its ethnic makeup. We can control the attitude we bring to our interaction with people. 

Will that save us in an encounter with someone who doesn't like us because of assumptions based on how we look? No. But it might save someone else we're making assumptions about, i.e., a kid walking home from the store early on a rainy evening. 

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@JimSX

If could cite a single instance of me suggesting the inferiority of any race, it would be quite a surprise to me, otherwise I might suggest you're screaming "racist" in a crowded theatre.

Maybe your confusion, anger and attack are because I understand that racism, bigotry and tribalism are an integral part of humanity, not just white people, and yes, if you stray in Jamaica, or Honolulu, or Los Angeles, you could experience some anti-white bigotry.

And, you're likely not happy that I point out that the "race wars" racialists claim so many whites are fearful of does not really involve whites - I base this opinion on reading the news.

I get along with all races, but, again, go to certain parts of any area I mention, see if your throwback racialist pheromone protects you from certain prejudices.

They might see YOU as an asshole - not because you see racism everywhere and in anyone who doesn't subscribe to your racialist angst - but because they hate your white ass.

I've even said they have every right to.

But, nice try old man.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@JFPO

Most of what I negatively reference about the left is gleaned from their own words and actions, not from interpretation by others of my ilk.

Some, if not most, libs I've "debated" with proudly claim they would NEVER watch FOX, and NEVER listen to Rush, but they'll believe everything Media Matters tells them about those entities.

It's very hard to live in a conservative bubble, since media, entertainment and the like are dominated by liberals. It's very easy to live in a liberal bubble. One reason I'm detested here is I poke the bubble a lot, and those who love me the most would ban me in a heartbeat if they could.

Now The debate is over and The science is settled, so now we can have that National Dialogue.

JFPO
JFPO

Huh? I guess this your way of saying women are inferior. Please, elaborate...

JFPO
JFPO

Your delusions of what the "left" believes would be comical if weren't so ignorant and pathetic.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@holmantx

A polite coded way of saying "fuck 'em".

An attitude a growing number of people are taking in the new age of McCarthyism.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  

What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. I refuse to spend my entire life making up for the vermin I am.

Besides, I can't produce a little light for the Left without heat.

So into the crab pot they go.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@holmantx

If you don't wring your hands over white racism, your's and others, every day, you're a racist.

If you cite rule of law and the economic damage to Americans from illegal immigration, you're a racist.

If you find the privileged poseur Obama a poor president, you're a racist.

And as you know, global climate holocaust hypothesis affects minorities and the global poor, if you deny climatism, you're a racist.

In short, if you deny any leftist assertion, you're a racist.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@ozonelarryb I remember from my middle school history class 47 years ago that before your relative's invention, cotton farming was a failure and need for low cost, untrained labor dropping.  Then the gin made it possible for high volume, huge acreage production.  The thought was - No gin and slavery ends when British ended it after Napoleonic Wars.  I did not get connection with musket.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Eli Whitney is an ancestor of mine and he sees the connection you makex cotton gin and musket manufacture, but he says they are only tools. And therefore not stupid enough of themselves to hate their fellows for no reason. For that highevel of thought, ya gotta be human.

JFPO
JFPO

"Man I keep telling you that, when you call people racist who are not, there will be blood"

Well, that is so incoherent I could have missed your point. What the hell is your point?

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