What joke did African Americans make about the New Deal's National Recovery Act? Explain.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The above answer is absolutely correct in saying that the National Recovery Administration, as well as many other New Deal programs was not fair to African Americans.  As she says, they were discriminated against quite badly.  This happened largely because it was whites who had political power and therefore it was whites that Roosevelt had to please.

In general, the NRA money was given to states to administer.  Therefore, it's not surprising the white leaders of the South administered it in ways that were not helpful to blacks.

Some jokes were made using the initials "NRA."  I don't know how often the N was used to mean "negro" and how often it was used as "ni***r" when these jokes were made.

So, it was known as the Negro Run Around, Negro Removal Act and Negroes Robbed Again.  I hope at least one of those is what you were supposed to know...

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

While I am not aware of a particular joke, I would say that African- Americans had many insights to the elements of the Great Depression and the New Deal.  Initially, many African- Americans would have remarked that since the ending of the Civil War, they had been experiencing their own sense of "the Great Depression."  The lack of economic opportunities, the high unemployment, the economic despair that enveloped communities in 1930 had been around African- American areas for about seventy years.  This was due, in large part, to state laws which advocated segregation and a "separate but equal" America.  No doubt African Americans would have agreed with the sentiment, "It's a minor crime when it happens to someone else, but it's a major crime if it happens to you."  For African- Americans, the panic and disarray realized with the Great Depression had been enveloping their communities for decades.  In terms of the National Recovery Act (NRA), themselves, African- Americans would once again have remarked about the nature of minor vs. major crimes.  For White American workers who were tired of being mistreated economically, the NRA's emphasis on fair compensation and equitable business practices was seen as an absolute.  Yet, for African- American workers, a dire lack of fair wages and unfair business practices had defined their existence in the post- Civil War America.  Bosses treated African- American workers fundamentally worse than their White counterparts.  Once again, the joke of it being a major crime when it happens to you would be quite valid.  African- Americans must have looked at the Great Depression with some level of ironic disdain because the panic and challenges thrust upon the shoulders of White Communities had been the burden for ones populated with people of color for some time.

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