Samantha Bee discusses the backlash to the #MeToo movement

Incidentally, the Green Book she refers to is the book The Negro Motorist Green Book that was a travel guide that informed black American tourists about the places that were safe to go to, shop, eat, and stay overnight and those that should be avoided.

First published in 1936, the Green Book was the brainchild of a Harlem-based postal carrier named Victor Hugo Green. Like most Africans Americans in the mid-20th century, Green had grown weary of the discrimination blacks faced whenever they ventured outside their neighborhoods. Rates of car ownership had exploded in the years before and after World War II, but the lure of the interstate was also fraught with risk for African Americans. “Whites Only” policies meant that black travelers often couldn’t find safe places to eat and sleep, and so-called “Sundown Towns”—municipalities that banned blacks after dark—were scattered across the country. As the foreword of the 1956 edition of the Green Book noted, “the White traveler has had no difficulty in getting accommodations, but with the Negro it has been different.”

Victor Hugo Green died in 1960 after more than two decades of publishing his travel guide. His wife Alma took over as editor and continued to release the Green Book in updated editions for a few more years, but just as Green had once hoped, the march of progress eventually helped push it toward obsolescence. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act finally banned racial segregation in restaurants, theaters, hotels, parks and other public places. Just two years later, the Green Book quietly ceased publication after nearly 30 years in print

Just as the Green book allowed people of color to better navigate the hazardous world of Jim Crow America, Bee suggests that people need similar guidance to enable them to more safely navigate a world in which power is often used by some people to coerce and abuse others. Publicizing those behaviors that are demeaning of others, even if they are not illegal, will undoubtedly create a grey zone where people will face public embarrassment for their behaviors. But over time, one can hope that the norms of behavior will change and the need for such revelations may become unnecessary and fade away, just like the Green Book.


  1. mountainbob says

    Wish all we needed was a Green Book. We do have an alternative that could be effective if enough folks wake to the possibility. It’s called The Ballot Box.

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