Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday History Lesson

If you allow yourself to Google search your every.fleeting.thought.  -  you end up not only wasting massive amounts of time on-line, but also on occasion you accidentally learn something. 

The usefulness of said accidental learning is up for debate. But still ...

I'm sharing these interesting (and useful) things I read the other night.  

As a result of thinking to myself "Huh, I bet at least a couple of our kids will have interracial marriages someday", I was researching and reading here about interracial marriages in history and I came across the story of Joseph Philippe Larouche.  It was all quite fascinating. 

"Attitudes towards Interracial marriage have changed dramatically, in just the last generation. In the United States it was just 43 years ago when interracial marriage was made fully legal in all 50 states. Today, in many countries, interracial marriage is commonplace and most don’t even give it a second thought. However, as we all know, it wasn’t always this way in the past. This list includes individuals who didn’t let the prejudice of society make their decisions in life, and also paved the way for interracial couples in the future."
(check the link above)

One story was about a Haitian man that died on the Titanic 100 years ago ...

Mr Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche was born in Cap Haitien, Haiti on 26 May 1886. In 1901, at age 15, he left Haiti and travelled to Beauvais, France, where he hoped to join the high school to study engineering.

Laroche Family
While visiting nearby Villejuif Joseph met Miss Juliette Lafargue. After Joseph graduated and got his degree, he and Juliette were married in March of 1908. Their daughter Simonne was born 19 February 1909; a second daughter, Louise, was born prematurely on 2 July 1910, and suffered many subsequent medical problems.

Racial discrimination prevented Joseph Laroche from obtaining a high-paying job in France. Since the family needed more money to cope with Louise's medical bills, Joseph decided to return to Haiti to find a better-paying engineering job, the move being planned for 1913.

In March 1912, however, Juliette discovered that she was pregnant, so she and Joseph decided to leave for Haiti before her pregnancy became too far advanced for travel. Joseph's mother in Haiti bought them steamship tickets on the La France as a welcome present, but the line's strict policy regarding children caused them to transfer their booking to the Titanic's second class. 

On April 10 the Laroche family took the train from Paris to Cherbourg in order to board the brand new liner later that evening.

Joseph - who is thought to have been the only black passenger on the Titanic - died in the sinking but his family were saved, possibly in lifeboat 14. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

I am curious, do most folks think attitudes toward interracial marriage have changed dramatically? I don't think I know the answer. I'm probably not the person that should determine the answer. Paige was shocked; her jaw dropped to the floor when she realized that it became legal in all 50 states so recently. That is pretty flippin crazy. 

There is an ongoing struggle in Haiti with lighter skin people seen as better, smarter, more beautiful and/or capable. To us it seems that prejudice and race-based hierarchy is overt and deeply rooted. It's discouraging to interact with it and feel powerless to change it. 

Over the last month our kids have been learning about slavery and the civil rights movement at school. They come home to share what they've learned. Their responses and questions have been precious, insightful, and heartbreaking.  

Thursday's blog history lesson has now concluded.