Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell

A summary written by Ikram Hawramani

“The most interesting aspect of this work is his study of “redneck” culture. According to Sowell, redneck culture originated in Britain and was characterized by high criminality and violence, a lack of interest in education, pride, grandiosity and sexual promiscuity. Redneck migrants from England brought their culture with them and established themselves in the American South, repeating the same behaviors that they were famous for in Britain.

Since nine tenth of black slaves lived in the South, they had the unfortunate fate of being acculturated to this redneck culture. Therefore according to Sowell, things that we consider to be “black” culture today (such as gangster rap and a low opinion of education) are actually the redneck culture of Britain that blacks took in. Blacks that were freed in the 19th century and lived in the North abandoned this redneck culture and took in New England’s extremely different (and far more productive) culture, so that these blacks were far more prosperous and educated and suffered far less from the problems that plagued both the whites and blacks of the South. He mentions that once “redneck” Southern blacks started to migrate en masse to the North, the New England blacks looked down on them and would do their best to move out of neighborhoods that these newly arrived blacks lived in, just as the whites did.”

This was a most pivotal book for me in explaining the differences in Black behavior and thinking and that despite the economic and educational gains that many have made over the past few decades, there is still this downward push to identify with a popular notion of ‘blackness’. If you don’t adhere to it, you are called a coon, uncle tom, sellout. It’s also quite telling how mass media only portrays the lower class ‘black redneck’ culture as THE black culture. It’s a stereotyping that has does not want to die, especially since it is considered ‘cool’. Imagine if ‘white’ culture were ONLY presented as ‘redneck’ culture?

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