Racist Cartoons from the 50's and 60's

Cartoons and Racism

Racist cartoons, made its appearance in the 50's, and soon became the electronic babysitter of my ear. I can remember watching children's programs and cartoons on television. While we were watching TV, we were also bombarded with images, that would change how we saw ourselves and others.

On programs like Leave it to Beaver, Father knows Best and my all time favorite, The Andy Griffith Show; blacks were not represented at all. The morning cartoons were a different story altogether. Blacks were characterized as monkeys and Orientals were portrayed with bucked teeth poor eyesight and large goofy glasses. I did not know what racism was; they were my morning cartoons!

Much of this children's entertainment, was created and produced by the famed Warner Brothers. Never did I think, "they are making fun of black people!", or "do all oriental people look like that?" They made me laugh; not understanding the sinister sub-plot of the show.

Racist Cartoon - Happy Watermelon Eating Negro
Racist Cartoon - Happy Watermelon Eating Negro

Are Racists Cartoons Funny or Disturbing?

I cannot say, that as a child, I did not find these cartoons entertaining, but I had no other point of reference. I do recall my Mom muttering every now and then when she passed the TV, "that's a shame! "Look how they make us look!"

Racism ran so deeply throughout culture, that this was the normal and quite acceptable. Do you remember the Charlie Chan movies that played on Saturday and how orientals were portrayed?

How about the movies where blacks were always portrayed as being afraid of ghosts. and the bugged out eyes? Or how Mexicans were portrayed as slow and being lazy? Only as we look back in retrospect, do we blush, and realize how terrible these TV programs were.

Racism in Cartoons

Racist Symbols Depicted in Cartoons

The black man eating watermelon
The black bird or crow with the voice of an Afro-American
The Chinese person with traditional closed extra tiny eyes and bucked teeth
The black woman fat, big bottomed, poor speech with tons of chil-ren running around
The black man, scared of ghosts
Bugs bunny, putting rings around his neck and a plate in his bottom lip
Black children called pick-a-ninnies
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Speedy Gonzales, the slow, lazy, Mexican mouse
Black people as slow and stupid

If you are over 50, these racist cartoons, are the images you saw, every day in every aspect of film and cartoons. At the time, we probably laughed and didn't think much of it. Looking back on it now, how do they make you feel now ?

Cartoons

Is America done with Racist Cartoons?

It seems we as Americans, could have almost forgotten that racism remains a part of the fabric of this nation. Oh, we know it is still here, though covert in most instances. Since the election of the first Afro-American president, there has been an onslaught of racist cartoons, characterizations of our 44th President. This particular picture was sent out by Tea activist and OC County GOP official Marilyn Davenport.

The reason for these types of racist cartoons and pictures of President Obama are in fact obvious. Their sole purpose is protest, that a man they believe to be inferior, and not worthy of being President. Perhaps in retrospect, the children’s cartoons we watched were not innocent, but were a deliberate attempt to demean and dehumanize minorities.

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Comments 53 comments

trusouldj profile image

trusouldj 3 years ago from Indiana

My kids like Tom and Jerry and Woody Woodpecker, but I found it difficult to explain certain images to them.


2besure profile image

2besure 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

We have already gone backward, it is sad to say!. The number of hate groups in the U.S. has grown each year for the past 11 years, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2000 the center reported that there were 602 hate groups; in 2011 that number had climbed to 1,018. Murders in mosques, calling the president the "N" word. Not to mention the move for republican states to put blockages in the way to make it more difficult for minorities to vote democratic. Racism may not be depicted in our cartoon any longer, but it is all still all around us in American.


Bob Zermop profile image

Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

I'm a bit too young to remember these cartoons firsthand, and my parents wouldn't have known them either (1st gen immigrants). But when I watch American movies from the 50s and 60s, sometimes a racist remark or portrayal will catch me very much off guard.

Occasionally I hear people complain about our society being too politically correct, too many "minority rights", and "reverse racism". I'm not saying those things aren't a problem, but the situation has improved a great deal for minorities and individuals in general. Let's not go backward.

Great hub, voted up, awesome, and interesting.


MundaneMondays 4 years ago

LMAO don't worry, we get our revenge though every "black" comedian--i agree love, im glad you pointed that out, but it still happens even today


2besure profile image

2besure 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Rodney if you had not left this comment, no one would have know how ignorant you are. Now your stupidity is noted for all time!


Clayton 4 years ago

Not all that is racism. Mainly what you show is stereotyping... and I always say, there are reasons for stereotypes. Please get over yourself.


Rodney 4 years ago

If you can't take a joke then you shouldn't be black!

So why do black people call white people honkeys??

Its the last sound they here before they get ran over!


Jesse 4 years ago

....idiots...


2besure profile image

2besure 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Thanks for your comment oceansnsunsets. It is so easy to see that these images are totally racist as adults. We have to be so careful what we allow out children to water. They are taking it all in!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Interesting observations about what we watched as kids. It is good to point it out. Thanks for sharing this hub.


2besure profile image

2besure 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Brigitta, thanks so much for taking time to share this!


Brigitta 4 years ago

The colour of the humans' skin and so many other features of the body are only the adaptation to different climats. According to the newest antripological discoveries all of our ancestors (homo sapiens) had dark, "black" skin. What is any kind of racism based on??


ourbloggerman profile image

ourbloggerman 4 years ago

This is really cool...informative...

I ask that people come and please view and comment on my hub.... http://hubpages.com/entertainment/PLEASE-SAVE-HETA...


2besure profile image

2besure 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Racism has not stopped in this country. We are flawed just look at the GOP. They are willing to hurt the whole country, so they can claim, the President is ineffective. It would appear that some white folks, can not stand to have a black man in authority over them! Funny they didn't seem to mind when the shoe was on the other foot! And the people who hate Obama, hate him because he is black, and have obtained a position in life, they can only dream of.


lol 4 years ago

Bro you have too much time on your hands, cartoon racism back then was simply that, cartoon racism. Most of those cartoons were made in a time where the pot in America had not yet melted, and the ethnicities had not yet found their place in the world. People portray art as they see it, and this was how they saw the world then.

I'm sorry if you find them so offensive, but get over it.

People hate Obama because he's an incompetent jack-off that was voted in so people wouldn't be considered "racist" when voting for the white guy. See what he's done to this country? I'm not even gonna get into the fact that his documents were forged and he's pushing too many agendas that will be the downfall of this country. I'll simply say this, cartoons made against Obama are made against Obama, not ... whatever race he is. No one even knows.


SallyTX profile image

SallyTX 4 years ago from Only In Texas!

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


2besure profile image

2besure 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Education is a great tool against hate and racism. Each man that keeps silent is guilt of allowing its promotion to continue!


SallyTX profile image

SallyTX 4 years ago from Only In Texas!

Great points! I think the scene in Freedom Writers where the teacher talks about the hateful pictures and propaganda that started the Holocaust is one of the strongest statements against this kind of thing ever. Anyone who has not seen that movie should! Voted up and awesome! ;D


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Yes, racism was very overt back in those days. You don't realize how offensive it is until you get older.


ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

I remember the crows in the Disney movie Dumbo were a black stereotype. But they and the mouse were the only nice chractors in that movie. The other elephants clowns and even the children were cruel.


Alladream74 profile image

Alladream74 5 years ago from Oakland, California

A sad state of affairs for the history of entertainment.A thoughtful and essential hub.


df 5 years ago

I better live in a racist world, than listen to idiots who seek racism EVERYWHERE just to bother people around them


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Racist views and stereotypes won't be stamped out in our lifetime. "if it's to be, it's up to me!"

I love it! So very, very true! Like your new picture, you look ten years younger than the one on eHow


taskeinc profile image

taskeinc 5 years ago from Atlanta

To answer your question, "Is America done with Racist Cartoons?" Obviously not when you see the depiction of Obama .. Racist views and stereotypes won't be stamped out in our lifetime. We still have a good ways to go but it never bothered me. Even as a child I had the mindset to understand that racism is simply ignorance. Therefore, I never allowed it to interfere with my successes or failures in life. I've always lived under the assumption that, "if it's to be, it's up to me!"


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Skeeter, none of us say these cartoon the way we do as adults. That is why there are so insidious!


skeeter747 profile image

skeeter747 5 years ago

Wow this was just weird to think that these was My Favorite Cartoon's as a Child.! Not ever did I think Of it the way I do Now. I never knew that People was being made fun of in these until now ! Thanks for the read and look forward to reading more Hub's by you...


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Marwan, thanks for your comment. No minority was spared. Thank God today's children are spared these vicious portrayals.


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan

Very nice piece and so very true. This is how, are, the media conglormates portraying the minoraties and everyone else linked with that label. More such pieces need to be hammared out in the open time and again.


Brinafr3sh profile image

Brinafr3sh 5 years ago from West Coast, United States

I understand what your saying about these type of cartoons. As a young child I didn't know what to think, guess I was confused, it wasn't that funny with cartoons having black crows eating watermelon and talking like they had a limited vocabulary. Thanks 2Besure


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

I know everyone did it James. We did it without regard to how it made other people feel. As you said, "a time less focused on sensitivity to be sure." Adults making fun of each is one thing, it is different when very impressionable children,see themselves portrayed as monkeys, natives,slow and ugly. They could never get away with this today. It was done in an era of ignorance and as you said "insensitivity."


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I think this stuff was just made to make people laugh. When I was a kid I heard jokes about everybody, Jews, Micks, Wops, Deigos, Spics, Wetbacks, Polacks, Krauts, Japs, Nips, Gooks, Hillbillies—nobody was immune. And there were jokes about fat people, ugly people, four-eyes, retards. It was a time less focused on sensitivity to be sure. I laughed at hillbilly jokes even though that is who my own people were. I still get a kick out of Jeff Foxworthy and his "You know you're a Redneck if . . . you met your wife at the family reunion . . . your house is on wheels and your car is on bricks . . . when you think your brother is lying you say 'you are lying through your tooth!"


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Yes lady, It makes me angry too. I had no idea how strong racism and that hatred was, until this county elected a black president. Some things I just won't watch, because they don't edify me and only sensationalizes racism. God sees it all lady and He will repay.


ladyjojo profile image

ladyjojo 5 years ago

True i really get emotional when i watch black movies like roots, amistad etc, skin to see how stupid some people were to hate and mistreat God's children. I do get agree when people in this modern age still wants to portray racilism.


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Ladyjojo, I can see this hub really opened a floodgate of emotions for you! I totally understand how you feel. Racism runs very deep in this world as do its wounds. Those who have been and remain subject to racism, now have the knowledge that keeps our heads high. In spite of it all! Yes, we are all created in the image and likeness of God!


ladyjojo profile image

ladyjojo 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing !! Valid point :)

Racism still exist some people are just good at covering it up. I am black as they call us but very proud of it that's how God made me.

You know even now in my country there's a Crix company that makes crackers and all there advertisements are racial they make the black man always looking hungry for the crackers, he's staring the indian man for it, There eyes are big and googly etc. WHAT A SHAME.

GOD have no color class, race or hair type so i don't know where people going with these rotten ideas.

Quote the white man "WE ARE/WERE ANIMALS"

Yet they let the animals cooked their foods and they was happy and glad to go to bed with the black animals.

So many black men have/had white daddies and did not know it. Even today the white women run down the black men aren't we animals anymore or the animals have something they like?

Just color fool people black people are beautiful they have much better shapes, we can take pressure and we are darn strong.

Imagine we are called colored not to sound bad as black. I once read who the hell they calling colour we stay black. They turn red in the sun, blue when cold, grey when dead and green when they need blood. So whose colored?????????????

Say what i try to love everybody for we'll never go to heaven hating other races.

BELOVE LET US LOVE ONE ANOTHER FOR LOVE IS OF GOD, and EVERYONE THAT LOVETH IS BORN OF GOD AND KNOWETH GOD


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Fastfreta, I like you watched these cartoons, know realizing how it was the true affect it was having on me and my sisters! Thank for your comments and ratings!


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 5 years ago from Southern California

What an enlightening hub. I actually used to watch early morning cartoons, but never thought of these stereotypes, and I laughed as hard as anyone, what a shame. And about BobbiRant's comment, I never knew that the Lone Ranger's sidekick's name meant "stupid," WOW! 2besure, you really hit the ball out of the park with this one. Rated up/awesome/useful.


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

You've got that right Linda. Memba Betty Boop? I didn't realize it until my sister pointed out when we were adults...Betty Boop wore thin tiny dress and was always partying with a bunch of men and getting a hangover. That was an adult cartoon...


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Me too 4seazons, me too! LOL


lindatymensky 5 years ago

I too never thought about this problem. Your article was enlightening. But think, too, how women are often portrayed?! Ugh


4seazons 5 years ago

And to think as a kid when I said "how" I thought I was speaking the Indian's language. Ignorance is bondage.


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Karen, I remember that Bruce Lee movies. We forget this type of parody, though may not be hurtful to us, they are hurtful to those who are the brunt of the "joke."


Karen N profile image

Karen N 5 years ago from United States

This reminds me of a movie that I watched a few years ago about Bruce Lee. He was at the movies with his (Caucasian) girlfriend and the movie was doing a portrayal of Chinese people, pretty much like you described above. In the movie Bruce Lee looked at all the laughing people in the theater for a minute, and just walked out. His girlfriend who was laughing along with everyone else noticed at this point. And you could see the realization on her face at how hurtful the movie was.

I'm a little too young to remember most of those cartoons. But I can imagine how hurtful they must have been. Luckily our children are being raised in a different time.


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

I used to watch the Lone Ranger every Saturday. Like you, I had no idea Tonto's name meant stupid. We didn't know, we just didn't know!


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 5 years ago from New York

Great hub concerning this topic. I also remember The Lone Ranger with his Indian side kick, whose name, in Spanish means 'stupid' which I never knew until my Spanish speaking friends clued me in. Imagine those Spanish speaking kids asking mom and dad why The Lone Ranger was calling his friend 'stupid.'


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Granny, these cartoons framed out Psyche, whether knew it or not. Children are so tender and open to influences both positive and negative. Thanks for taking time to comment.


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

Ms Dee, this is so ingrained in our society, still. You don't even know, these first thoughts emerged as a child. I lived in the city, but always played with all races of children. My Mom had all races of friends.


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

BKCreative, I don't remember that song, but I did watch the cartoon Little LuLu! I did not know that these cartoon were done in SKorea. Unbelievable. I know that when I went to China in 2000, while at a store I saw a toothpaste called, "Darky White." The picture on the box was a man in black face grinning, with white teeth. Thanks so much for the education on SK.


Granny's House profile image

Granny's House 5 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

I too never thought of this! Kids are impressionable and this very well could have made an impression on how we thought of other races to be.

Great hub.


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina Author

sarclair, you are right. You never think about it, until it smacks you right in the face.


Ms Dee profile image

Ms Dee 5 years ago from Texas, USA

Wow, this is so true! This is very enlightening to see where some of the cultural attitudes were ingrained into us.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Oh so true - and let's not forget the "Little Lulu" song that everyone was singing "...little Lulu, you are wild as any Zulu" - huh? the Zulu people - wild, for fighting back?

Because I had the opportunity to work in S. Korea - (where much of the quality U.S. cartoon animation is done by the way) many of the cartoons are shown on the English speaking U.S. military stations, and others - and all the old U.S. cartoon racism remains. You will see bugs bunny dressed as a black servant singing "I wish I was in Dixie" - and let's not even get into books designed for children such as those 'adored' Bobsey Twins - (a whole series of books, a must read for all children) who wanted to stop playing one day and go off to watch slaves (the enslaved) being beaten.

When we talk of racism - we have to remember that it is entrenched in every segment of society, and children were not spared - which explains why so many grow up stupid.

School curricula was the worst of all 'his-story' we call it. And is still terribly lacking.

I can go on and on. But yes, there should be shame. A country factually stolen from people who have been here at least 20,000 known years. Not to be shared but to be stolen by any means necessary.

Rated up!


sarclair profile image

sarclair 5 years ago

I have never thought about these things. Thank you for sharing.This hub has been voted up and useful.

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