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Duck Dynasty and “Happy Blacks”

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Chapter 10: Good Times
Comments (25)
  1. Allen Mixon says:

    The black family was clearly better off during those years. What so many people label “progress” would be better labeled the “disintegration of society.” We have no ground to claim moral superiority to our fathers. If we use a Christian standard to measure well being, relative to today blacks were better in many ways. Have you considered that Phil might actually have a point?

  2. Warner Aldridge says:

    Would love to discuss this with you brother. It appears that this has caused more harm than good and we must be careful because the entire approach is to compare or place the sin of homosexuality right next to being black and they are totally two different avenues.

  3. Tera Gram-Browne says:

    My grandfather was a poverty stricken sharecropper in a little town in Alabama, a white man with 9 kids and a wife to feed. It wasn’t just black folks “share” cropping…it was a hard life for many back then.

    Mr. Robertson didn’t say that no one mistreated blacks. He said he personally didn’t see it. You appear to begrudge him for commenting on his own experiences. My mother and her brothers and sisters were treated unkindly because they were so poor, abuse wasn’t limited to black people, just as it is not today.

    I think your grandmother has the right idea. Put Christ first and the rest falls into place. Too much was made out of Robertson’s remarks, on both sides.

  4. Tom Moran says:

    There were Germans that never saw the brutalizations of the Holocaust but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Phil isn’t suggesting that mistreatment of Blacks didn’t occur rather that he never witnessed it. Should we be asking if he is lying or if his experience was somehow different and more importantly, why were the Blacks in his life godly, happy and not singing the victimization blues like Grandma was? The author already answered the question for us…in a Word…Christ. It is highly unlikely that the man who publicly and rightly divides woman’s vagina from man’s anus would wince at an honest depiction on race. Whereas (on a lighter note), does anyone else chuckle that the Black author whose ministry it is to reach Blacks is claiming that the man whose ministry it is to reach everyone is ‘racial’?

  5. Clinton Dailey says:

    Also as far as him saying he “never saw”. I think he may have a habit of over simplifying a story when speaking. In this video,, when he describes his youth, he says “I never heard anyone say we were poor. Not once”. Sounds similar.

  6. Clinton Dailey says:

    Unfortunately, I think his comments were misunderstood. He was not saying black people were happy because of their circumstance. They were happy spiritually DESPITE their circumstance. He was trying to witness to the interviewer so his comments revolved around spiritual treasure as apposed to earthly treasure. That’s why in describing them, he said “they were godly” before he said happy or not singing the blues. Some people are miserable today despite us living in the most prosperous time in history. Back then when things were worse for a lot of people and no social net to fall back on .(pre-entitlement, pre-welfare) people were happy. Families were closer, stronger. He was saying, in the worst of times, God can make people “happy”.

  7. Tim Crook says:

    As the great-grandson of a white landowner, who was a Christian, during this time, I am deeply grieved by this kind of article.

    I spoke with my family about this and this is what my grandfather said: Blacks were mistreated in Georgia during this time, but not by our family. We had one table, and everyone who lived on our farm, ate at it. I can remember being teased about this going to school and my father simply said there is neither Jew nor Greek, but we are one in Jesus and that as Christians we obey the word.

    I think that there is a discounting of a reality that existed then, and today, which is namely Land-Ownership Privilege. Land Ownership is the means of wealth.

  8. Lisa Robinson says:

    This is good. Thanks for articulating perspective so well.

  9. Micah Lewter says:

    Thank you for this article. It was well written and thoughtful. Grace to you.

  10. Chad ONeal Jackson says:

    Admittedly this article is very insightful and makes a lot of good points.
    But in Phil’s defense, the black people he worked with could have genuinely been happy. Sure this was the Jim Crow era, but I’m not convinced that ALL black people hated ALL white people, just like how I’m not convinced that ALL white people were violent racists. My grandparents who were young adults in the 60’s lived in Arkansas, and while they experienced racism from some whites, they experienced friendship and equality with non-racist whites. 
    around the racist whites, they did have to comport themselves, but around non-racist whites, they were their own “happy” selves. 
    The Robertson’s could have very well been a non-racist family who created a delightful enough atmosphere that really made their black employees genuinely happy. 
    We must not assume that just because this was the Jim Crow era, the blacks on the Robertson farm were putting on a front every day at work. 

    1. george canady says:

      Hey Chad, I saw the same thing when I was young too. “Happy Blacks”. Then in 1980 Odessa, Texas forced intigration and I could not believe the hate on TV every night. But when I was saved in 1999 I began to notice something in the white church when blacks weren’t around. An attitude that only came out after “they” “knew” I was one of ” them”. After 10 years of many professing Christian’s stomach turning attitudes, I decided to speak up. I was angry by this time and I said things that were wrong and mean. I need forgiveness but also I need to know I am not alone in my thinking. RAAN and thefrontporch has helped with that. I am still learning with you.

  11. Stacy A. Smith says:

    Good words. I to am a Christian and believe we should give everyone the benefit of doubt as to their motivation. What I mean is Mr. Robertson from what I have seen is not a man of mean spirit. He does say things off the cuff and sometimes it is confusing. I do not believe he was sneaking for the whole south, for the State of Louisiana, white people or Christians. He was just answering questions put forth by a reporter. It is also very likely that he was interviewed for a long time and the reporter used only a small portion of what was said. I agree it is nice to have everyone educated as s all the facts about segregation and other areas in life. One nice thing about all of this is it did start a discussion about these issues. Thanks again for you wise words.

  12. george canady says:

    Jemar, thanks for your thoughts and an example of firm correction, yet restrained patients, as God seems to be bringing just one opportunity after another to test the resolve of those of us who could be hatefully angry. I’m in school here.

  13. Wayne Larson says:

    “I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash.”

    I think this line is particularly jarring. It assumes the normativity of white privilege.

    1. Diane Kostuk says:

      My mother grew up in rural, southern Georgia in the 1930s. That was the way of life and the way whites were raised. She herself said many times that she was poor, white trash and the only thing lower than her was a “n” word. Times were very tough for her. She picked cotton, took care of her 7 siblings (she was the oldest), worked hard and survived. She recently passed away and had quite a few black friends that would sing gospel songs and pray with her. She used the “n” word her whole life, but I still loved her.

    2. Chad ONeal Jackson says:

      I agree, but even though that may be true, we must not assume that Phil endorses the idea of white privilege. if anything, he recognizes the hand that blacks have been dealt here in the united states by privileged whites due to the fact that his being a farmer (white trash) caused him to experience similar treatment in those days. 
      And even if he didn’t experience similar treatment in those days, he’s certainly experiencing it today even as a millionaire; I’ve heard various news networks refer to Phil as a “backwoods  hillbilly who is not current with the times.” 

      1. Wayne Larson says:

        Good points, Chad.

    3. Clinton Dailey says:

      I don’t believe that was his intent. Unfortunately back then, he was probably called white trash. He said he grew up in the 1950s but where he lived looked like the 1850s.

    4. Tera Gram-Browne says:

      You say that like (in some twist of logic) that isn’t the very thing that “pre-civil rights” was all about, which is why there was a civil rights movement because obviously there was such an attitude.

    5. Valerie (Kyriosity) says:

      I took that as historical present — in the scene he’s describing, he’s working with the black workers.

  14. gfoz says:

    Well said

  15. Lee Plunkett says:

    Well written. Thanks for bringing this situation into perspective by broadening all of ours. It is much needed.

  16. Warner Aldridge says:

    Great article brother. I do agree that maybe it was the context in which it was said. It seems as if he was coming from a perspective of the blacks that he did know, but probably needed to do a little more investigation of the the ones who were affected by the Jim Crow Laws. And like you said at the end its probably best to read up on the culture of others especially those who are in Christ. At the same time, it does appear that he was speaking from his perspective but it probably was not wise to mention the line about Jim Crow etc.

  17. Dan Lockwood says:

    Thank you, Jemar, for this balanced perspective. Gotta consider the context and take each person’s comments as his/her own opinion, coming from his/her own experience and perspective, not as objective or absolute/”Gospel truth” of how things really were for everybody. I’ve been inspired to read of African-Americans who were giants of godly character despite horrible injustices they suffered throughout our country’s history, because they let nothing and no one steal their joy of knowing Christ. (Of course, I say this not to excuse or enable former unjust institutions or laws!) God bless your Grandmother! I look forward to meeting her!

  18. Wendy Alsup says:

    Thank you for sharing this.

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