ETIQUETTE IN FORMAL AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
RELATIONS between whites and blacks during the period of slavery were not, of course, confined to the more intimate situations that obtained on the plantations or in such primary groups as the church. There were occasions, for instance, where forms of address and reference were needed; instances where the races might come into contact in trains, theaters, or on the streets; in fact, as in the cities, wherever under contacts, light and perhaps superficial, distances needed. to be preserved, and status to be maintained.
There is evidence that slaves used "mistis" as a title for white women whom they had occasion to address at all in public places. 1 To white men of apparent upper-class ranking some military title, such as "captain" or "colonel" was generally used. "Boss" was the title used to address persons of lower rank than slaveholder but not so low as the "poor whites." It "Would be interesting to know how the slaves addressed this latter class; but the evidence is lacking that they addressed them at all. Perhaps, the slaves used "mister" and "madam" as the most formal terms of address. A letter from Port Royal tells of an insane slave woman, who, narrating stories from the Bible, referred to "Mr. Adam," and "Madam Eve." 2 No more formal relation could perhaps have been conceived by Negroes under the circumstances.
As terms of reference, "buckra" and "buckra man were used by the Sea Island slaves of South Carolina. In Manuel Pereira3 the term seems to refer to the nonslave-owning white man and does not carry the contempt and scorn implied in the term "Poor buckra." 4 On the other hand, the "buckra man" must
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Etiquette of Race Relations in the South:A Study in Social Control. Contributors: Bertram Wilbur Doyle - Author. Publisher: University of Chicago Press. Place of publication: Chicago. Publication year: 1937. Page number: 53.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.