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kozmonyet t1_iteja5h wrote

"...the loading officers had been pushing the enlisted men to load the explosive cargoes very quickly; ", "The junior officers placed bets with each other in support of their own 100-man crews‍"

This is actually possibly more nefarious than it sounds. I would quote it directly except the book is currently at my office--I have a railroad management manual from just before that era which explains how to handle workers of different "ethnicities." It gives specific instructions regarding African Americans.

In short, the text specifically says that African Americans tend to be lazy slow workers. The management advice to get over that is to slip in a ringer to set the pace for the rest--then it becomes a contest to see who can work the fastest. Once you get a bit of a contest going between workers and teams, instead of being lazy bums, African Americans would get a ton of work done and were one of the best "ethnicities" to have working for you. You just needed to install that pacesetter to get the ball rolling and make it seem like a contest so they'd keep it up.

Racist as hell but it was common belief and procedure at the time.

I'd speculate that the "contests" mentioned might have been an intentional race-based management ploy to manipulate worker productivity.

BTW, Italians are quarrelsome and not very sturdy of body so are not the best workers to hire, Japanese are too small and weak, Poles (that general region) are good workers but dumb, and on and on just to fill out a bit of the bigotry from that era. It wasn't limited to just the darker skinned folks.


forgetfulnymph t1_itfwtuz wrote

They could have saved the ink on the racist shit and still taught the manipulative management.


firelock_ny t1_ithppbd wrote

My brother's first management job was at a printing company in Chicago, their huge main factory building had been built around 1900.

Each corner of the building had a staircase that only went to one of the four main production floors. This was so the management could segregate their factory workers by ethnicity - otherwise management was certain there'd be daily brawls between the various sects of recent European immigrants working there.


EpicAura99 t1_itk0ajj wrote

Honestly, of all the reasons to segregate by race, this is probably the least bad.


Smart_Ass_Dave t1_itlsovj wrote

This reminds me of early Quaker congregations that would segregate their discussions by gender and then come back together and present what each group had decided they should do. This was so that women did not have to agree with their husbands in public, even though they actually disagreed.


EpicAura99 t1_itlxs5v wrote

That’s mighty progressive of them, although I feel like I remember the Quakers doing a good bit of progressive stuff. Could be thinking of a different group.


Smart_Ass_Dave t1_itlyi21 wrote

As with any group that has existed for 400 years or so, the group's history is imperfect obviously, but equality is one of the four central "testaments" of the religion (along with truth, simplicity and peace). So they were earlier to abolition than most religious groups as an example. They also did smaller things like using set price tags rather than unlisted prices or bartering because different prices for different people is inherently unfair.


firelock_ny t1_itpjcsu wrote

Fun bit: two US Presidents (Hoover and Nixon) were raised as Quakers.


Ok_Profile6608 t1_iuf6qsz wrote

Except in this instance we were fighting Nazis and the Japanese Army with policies and practices of white supremacy, & white folks had trouble seeing the irony of it all.


EpicAura99 t1_iufaehp wrote

I don’t think you’re seeing their perspective. Obviously I’m not condoning any of this, but let me show how the conflict you explain here didn’t really exist:

1940s racists (and some today, of course) saw these undesirables more or less like monkeys. Maybe advanced monkeys. But monkeys all the same. Animals, subhumans.

It’s easy to see how someone doesn’t want to kill all the monkeys in the world, while also not wanting to treat them like people.

Again, this logic is awful, but it’s more consistent than how you portray it.


Ok_Profile6608 t1_iufiq2h wrote

Yeah I think I understand it really clear because I spoke with some of these men and all of their families over the course of 7 years and they just couldn't believe that white people would pretend to fight white supremacist Nazis and Shinto fascist Japanese Army and still make a black man walk through a separate gate into the Navy Yard while he was helping us fight the Nazis , they couldn't believe that we would be more committed to racism than winning and choose to give a black man unreliable equipment just to let him know they didn't see him as a man.


Ok_Profile6608 t1_iufjai6 wrote

And this accident was very likely caused by a combination of War Frenzy driving us to move at a dangerous pace, and unwillingness to provide skilled Technical Training to classes of people we did not want to see increase their economic Mobility, and the unqualified supervision by untrained supervising officers.

That's all well and good if we're just saying s*** happens in war and we put people in positions that no one was ready for, but if we had been less racist at this Naval Base we could have avoided this. There were plenty of warnings and plenty of formal objections to wait till the way this plant was run. US Coast Guard refused to do on-site inspections, trade unions plumbers and pipefitters refused to come out and work on the base because of the way it was being run. And this explosion really hurt us and our invasion of Saipan and the northward march to Japanese home islands. White supremacy is a technology of power that sometimes acts like a traumatic brain injury and leaves people hurting themselves just to maintain their white privilege. Like literally folks were coming to kill us and he's white officers wanted to reinforce racial superiority rather than defeat The Barbarians at the gate. Seeing yourself as white is a toxic thing to believe in.... because there's no such thing as white people.


Drifter74 t1_itrmn3s wrote

One day one of our sorting machines broke and our customer needed this part and lots of them (the ends of the parts were almost identical so either needed laser measured sorting or each to be manually inspected, an upside down one hitting their machinery was very bad for us). So we needed about 24 temps which was going to require two agencies. I swear to god one agency managed to send in about 12 Indians and the other 12 Pakistans (sp). They put them all at the same table, across from each other, I pointed out that this might not be the best idea (but what would I know). After about 30 minutes it became very apparent it was in fact a bad idea.


Dawnawaken92 t1_itgloa2 wrote

I love how ppl think racism only effected the colored folk. Yall have any idea how they treated us Irish? Bro...


JollyGreenGiraffe t1_ithhcuu wrote

Ya and the Irish always love to point it out too.


Ok_Profile6608 t1_iuf6wmf wrote

Only unlike all the people of color the Irish were able to become white by joining the clan which most of them did in the 1920s.


Saturnalliia t1_itf9mli wrote

How did they get this information? Did they just make shit up?


kelldricked t1_itfl8q2 wrote

Stereotypes. Thats it.


GeneralNathanJessup t1_ithyht8 wrote


All White People are Kenwood. All Black People are Sony.

No, not really. Those are just stereo types.


BoldestKobold t1_itw8bgs wrote

> Once you get a bit of a contest going between workers and teams, instead of being lazy bums, African Americans would get a ton of work done and were one of the best "ethnicities" to have working for you. You just needed to install that pacesetter to get the ball rolling and make it seem like a contest so they'd keep it up.

Strip out the racism and just replace it with "poor, working class", and you're talking about every Amazon warehouse, every retail job, etc.

Turns out people don't like doing shit work. Rather than paying people what they are worth, you "gameify" it.

They came to the conclusion "it must be because of their race" because they were (1) already racist, or (2) racism meant that blacks were overrepresented in the shittiest jobs that people least wanted to do.


ViskerRatio t1_itf9g6l wrote

While I doubt that they did rigorous research to reach those conclusions, the statements themselves are not inherently racist but could potentially be legitimate observations.

Contrast the two statements:
"White men like ice hockey more than black men" vs.
"That man cannot like ice hockey because he is black"

The first statement is very likely true - the fan base for ice hockey is primarily white men and relatively few black men are interested in the sport.

The second statement is the racist one - the assumption that the man's skin color defines his taste in sports.

Now, the statements you're describing could be based on racist assumptions rather than legitimate observations - but that doesn't make the statements themselves racist, merely the underlying assumptions.

The reason this matters is that, in science, there are a lot of observations about group differences that many people erroneously believe are racist despite being verifiable.


Darqnyz t1_ith4l87 wrote

You're trying to euphemize "descriptive vs prescriptive" racism right now


ViskerRatio t1_ithv1l1 wrote

No, I'm not. The Descriptive vs. Prescriptive distinction is about imposing a view vs. observing a view. What I'm talking about is that racial groups (as well as any arbitrary group) have observable differences and that the mere act of observing these differences is not, in itself, racist.

For example, you'll see a lot of people say "that's racist!" when you point out that Jews are wealthier than average or black people more likely to engage in crime. However, that use of racism is incorrect - and the overuse of it in this fashion ends up killing rational discourse.


Darqnyz t1_ithx18q wrote

You're literally describing the difference between descriptive/prescriptive racism.

Yes, observing differences between races is amoral. It has no bearing whether right or wrong. It's like saying "Black people are taller than Asian people". While "racist", it is a descriptive statement about black people that can be measured, and does not further imply anything inherent about race.

But you're taking things that have prescriptive implications, and pretending that you don't know about them, and then boiling them down to descriptive elements.

"Black people are lazy" is a prescriptive statement, because "lazy" is not a trait that uniquely/inherently Maps on to the race of the person being described.

When you made your explanation, you avoided restating the prescriptive statements being made about the "races" of the people being described. Which is fine, but that's why I said you're euphemizing them. Trying to sneak the "descriptive" label onto the statements, rather than actually assign it directly.


ViskerRatio t1_ithypf0 wrote

> "Black people are lazy" is a prescriptive statement, because "lazy" is not a trait that uniquely/inherently Maps on to the race of the person being described.

Almost no traits actually map onto race in an objective fashion. There's no actual reason that black skin should correlate with preferring basketball over ice hockey. It just so happens that we can observe this - and it is not racist to observe it.

In terms of the observations being made, saying "that's racist" is merely a way to shut down thinking about the issue and refusing to engage with why those statements were made.

I'd encourage you to consider the social classes within the groups named and what those various classes would have been doing during World War II other than working the docks. Because an Italian working the docks at Port Chicago and a black man working the docks at Port Chicago would have very likely have been drawn from different backgrounds if you stop to think about it.

What you - and many others - are doing is engaging in knee jerk prejudice. You're just assuming you know more about the situation than the people who were actually there. What you should be doing is trying to understand why they thought as they did - and reductive answers like "they were racist!" are never the correct ones.


Darqnyz t1_ithzr5s wrote

I'll just ask you directly, because I don't have all day:

Do you understand that saying "black people like to play basketball" is prescriptive and "more black people play basketball than other races" is "descriptive*?.

Do you understand that both of these statements are "racist" in the sense that they are making strong statements about race? As in the academic understanding of the term "racist"?


ViskerRatio t1_iti04db wrote

> Do you understand that saying "black people like to play basketball" is prescriptive and "more black people play basketball than other races" is "descriptive*?.

A prescriptive statement is one where you're imposing a standard on others. A descriptive one is one where you're observing a difference.

> Do you understand that both of these statements are "racist" in the sense that they are making strong statements about race? As in the academic understanding of the term "racist"?

While you're welcome to make up your own definitions of words, don't expect the rest of the world - including academia - to accept them.

What you're trying to do is precisely what I cautioned against - redefine 'racism' as a way to shut down critical thinking.

Consider for a moment that we have statements from people who were actually there and who were experts in their job. Your response to them - despite having no context whatsoever and no expertise - that they were 'racist'. That's it - you've decided to end any inquiry into why those statements were made and what observations they reflected. You don't want more information. You just want to demonstrate moral superiority.


Darqnyz t1_iti1qol wrote

>A prescriptive statement is one where you're imposing a standard on others. A descriptive one is one where you're observing a difference.

Ok, so we have semantics dispute. That's fine.

I learned "prescriptive" through philosophy, where it's better understood to mean "how something ought to be". I wouldn't use "impose a standard" but it works.

Descriptive however, I would say is simply observing something that "is". We can argue all day whether a black person is good, bad, fast, slow etc, but descriptively black people are human. Not looking for difference, but what is observable.

I refer back to the academic definition of racism, because it's lost so much meaning (thanks lefties), that it is basically useless. When I talk about racism, I try to stick to the "race as a category of human" side of things, because moralizing around race is a huge waste of time.

So when I say "racism", I'm just referring to prescriptive/descriptive identifications of race. Not "i hate blacks" or "white supremacy". Just observing racial groups and how they interact


That_Run_3066 t1_itsf836 wrote

There is some truth to that but people aren't ready to admit it yet. There is usually some truth rooted in most stereotypes although it is usually greatly exaggerated


LabyrinthConvention t1_iteiawj wrote

>A month later, unsafe conditions inspired hundreds of servicemen to refuse to load munitions, an act known as the Port Chicago Mutiny. Fifty men‍—‌called the "Port Chicago 50"‍—‌were convicted of mutiny and sentenced to 15 years of prison and hard labor, as well as a dishonorable discharge.


gheebutersnaps87 t1_itfa2pm wrote

Please tell me they did not have to serve 15 years for that shit


Kolja420 t1_itfan10 wrote

>Forty-seven of the 50 were released in January 1946; the remaining three served additional months in prison.


Ok_Profile6608 t1_iuf6jwb wrote

And then after being labeled the most dangerous men in the Navy they were quietly reentered into service without comment for us to complete their tour of Duty and then dishonorably discharged. President Clinton offered clemency the remaining survivors they told him to eat s*** they wanted exoneration or nothing else. Barack Obama tried to trigger exoneration but only the secretary of the Navy can do it. And rumor has it they are looking at it as we speak.


Dallenforth t1_itegppm wrote

Fun fact! It's one of the least visited national parks. You can schedule a tour from the John Muir house in Martinez. They take you to the park and give you a guided tour.


MrMessy t1_itehara wrote

Though an AWESOME memorial, it is not a national park.


Dallenforth t1_itepm4r wrote

Governed by NPS though, I remember our tour guide calling it a park but it might just be semantics


Blatherskitte t1_itfhx6y wrote

Whenever I've gone to a nonpark (other than DC) they're always like "this is a real park, I'm a real park ranger" but the park rangers at official parks are like "lawl no". So I think there's a pecking order thing going on.


D0nutyajustkn0w1t t1_iti6t6w wrote

I am a former Park Ranger who has worked at monuments (flagstaff area - wupatki), historic sites Klondike historic) and parks (Yellowstone, Zion, redwoods). You’re a Park Ranger in uniform for all those jobs. Now if you’re a state park/national forest/concessionaire — you’re not a Park Ranger in how people think of them but mostly in practice.


MrMessy t1_iteq22z wrote

Yes, I wasn't trying go be rude or anything!


JollyGreenGiraffe t1_ithi9nw wrote

Fun fact, it isn't actually a national park, its a historical memorial. It's just managed by the park service. They do more than just national parks.

"The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the United States federal government within the U.S. Department of the Interior that manages all national parks, most national monuments, and other natural, historical, and recreational properties with various title designations.[3"


Godtiermasturbator t1_ithqteu wrote

I think it's a testament, not only to my ignorance, but also to racism in the US, that I've never heard of this disaster, even though I consider myself pretty checked out on WWII history


Rossum81 t1_itiltrf wrote

Which shows how under-utilized African Americans servicemen were in WW2. Of the 98 combat divisions (Army and Marine) only three were ‘colored.’ And one saw no combat. It wasn’t until after the Bulge that Army blacked Black soldiers is platoons within several White divisions. There were also the Tuskegee flyers- two groups, one of which never saw combat.

When Pearl Harbor happened, only 4 Black sailors had ratings other than cook, messman or stevedore. Two Black crewed ships (a destroyer escort and sub chaser) eventually sailed. The USMC did add some Black leathernecks in defensive battalions and they saw combat in Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.


terratrema t1_itfcaig wrote

How does the 15% of all african american wwii casualties check out? Is the total number of casualties somewhere?


NinDiGu t1_itfjuau wrote

The Wikipedia article cites for the statement:

>All 320 of the men on duty at the pier died instantly, and 390 civilians and military personnel were injured, many seriously. Among the dead were all five Coast Guard personnel posted aboard the fire barge.[36] African-American casualties totaled 202 dead and 233 injured, which accounted for 15% of all African-American casualties during World War II.[37] Naval personnel worked quickly to contain the fires and to prevent other explosions. Injuries were treated, those seriously injured were hospitalized, and uninjured servicemen were evacuated to nearby stations.[38]

So citation 37 is the way to read more:

> U.S. Army, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. History. "A Chronology of African American Military Service. From WWI through WWII. Part II". Archived on May 28, 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2010.

The linked page is

Here's a fun quote from that article:

>1942 Black newspapers that ran articles strongly criticizing segregation and discrimination in the armed forces had trouble obtaining newsprint until they softened their stance. The U.S. Justice Department also threatened to charge 20 editors with sedition.

On topic:

>1944 By this time, the War Department’s critical need for troops overseas helped to ease opposition to the dispatch of black servicemen to the European or Pacific theaters. The number of African Americans serving in-theater jumped from 97,725 in 1941 to 504,000 in 1943. However, 425,000 black troops remained in the United States. The military claimed that allied foreign nations objected to the presence of black troops, but it was usually American commanders overseas who opposed their assignment.

Italics mine

>Ultimately, though, this incident did result in changes affecting racial relations in the Navy, because ammunition loading ceased to be a "blacks only" assignment. The Navy also adopted safer procedures for loading ammunition.


terratrema t1_itfk0bs wrote

That's the spirit! Thank you.


NinDiGu t1_itfk92x wrote

Following links like this is way easier on the PC, and since I am on the PC right now!

I suck at digging up and posting info like the above from my phone.


terratrema t1_itfl0f3 wrote

Even if it is a goldmine for black american history, i still didnt find the info. The only number given is about casualties of the 92? Division and it mentions there a 25% as well. Its on the second page (part ii) towards the end


NinDiGu t1_itfl5l1 wrote

They were not deployed overseas until very late in the war seems to be the reason for the low casualty numbers overall.


terratrema t1_itflamy wrote

True, i read it, but we are not given a total, at least i didn't find it


MortalWombat1974 t1_itfjgpl wrote

I was wondering about this as well. If it's right, that means "only" around 2000 black Americans were killed in WW2.

That seems unlikely, considering google says around 400 thousand Americans died in that war..


IrrelephantAU t1_itfwjsp wrote

The US military in WW2 was still segregated - black soldiers were primarily used as labor, not as combat troops.


big_sugi t1_itggs55 wrote

It might be much lower; the OP references “casualties,” not KIA. According to Wikipedia, “A total of 708 African Americans were killed in combat during World War II.” The cited source is not online, however: Micheal Clodfelter. Warfare and Armed Conflicts- A Statistical Reference to Casualty and Other Figures, 1500–2000. 2nd Ed. 2002 p. 584 ISBN 0-7864-1204-6.

Given that the rate of wounded to killed is typically 3:1, that death toll may be about right. Hard to say without knowing about other non-combat fatalities, though.


Ok_Profile6608 t1_iuf7bcx wrote

This I doubt. 202 sailors 2nd class died at Port Chicago... there had to have been more than 1300 dead black Sailors & soldiers in World War II


HPmoni t1_itmf2zz wrote

Black men weren't allowed on the front lines. I believe they were also exempt from getting GI Bill benefits.

So many US military casualties are oops moments, not combat fatalities.


Butthole_Alamo OP t1_itmhfy7 wrote

As an aside, pretty crazy how much non-combat deaths went down compared to the US Civil War. I assume it’s due to improved disease prevention and medical care.

WWII (US only)

Combat deaths: 291,557
Non-combat deaths: 113,842
Total deaths: 405,399
Percentage of non-combat deaths: 28%

US Civil War

Combat deaths: 214,938
Non-combat deaths: 440,062
Total deaths: 655,000
Percentage of non-combat deaths: 67%



BoldestKobold t1_itw8scm wrote

> I assume it’s due to improved disease prevention and medical care.

Sanitation is huge. The amount of death in human history that can be directly attributed to dirty water or just lack of hygiene is massive.


TheGoodSquirt t1_iteq9eb wrote

Fun fact: this is about 15 minutes or so from my hometown


Butthole_Alamo OP t1_itf5r31 wrote

Hey there! I live about 30 min southwest from Port Chicago. I need to go check out the memorial one of these days. I always wondered about the bunkers near there when driving that direction.