Fair and equal was a myth in the Jim Crow South. Previous Monthly Musings have detailed unfair practices in education and inheritance. However, inequality played a role in other ways for the characters in Silent Ties.
Employment opportunities for Black Americans in the south were limited. Available jobs forced them to work for lower wages without possibility of a raise, no paid vacations, typically forced into positions of physical labor, rare opportunity for advancement, requirement to work holidays, and often lacked the freedom to move to another job.
Loans were not available to black residents at the local level or through federal programs. This was true for housing and land purchases; to start, buy, or run a business; for equipment or supplies necessary in agriculture; and automobile financing. This helped to control employment as well as where and how well they lived.
Services were limited or not available. They could not use public facilities such as hospitals, libraries, selected stores, or other businesses. They were often forced to utilize only black professionals or black owned businesses functioning with fewer supplies, lower quality materials, or lack of proper education.
Addie once dared to point out the limitations of her future, “No one’s gonna hire me to do anything but clean house. That’s who I am. And nobody will hire Henry to do anything but work in the factory. That’s who they’ll make us be.”
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana