But there were tensions. Some Northerners, including Payne, did not approve of the emotional worship style of their Southern counterparts; he stressed that "true" Christian worship meant proper decorum and attention to reading the Bible. Many Southerners were disinterested in Payne's admonitions. They liked their emotive form of worship and saw no reason to cast it aside. Nevertheless, most black Southerners ended up joining independent black churches that had been formed in the North before the Civil War. These included the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ). In 1870, Southerners formed the Colored (now "Christian") Methodist Episcopal Church, and in 1894, black Baptists formed the National Baptist Convention.
In her essay Rankine discusses the reactions of black mothers to the murder of their sons. By requesting an open coffin and allowing photographs of Emmett Till’s disfigured body to be published after he was lynched in 1955, his mother was defying the tradition of whites posing in front of hanged black bodies, Rankine observes with passion. Michael Brown’s mother was kept from his body after he was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. Tamir Rice’s mother moved into a homeless shelter rather than live near the scene of her twelve-year-old son’s killing by police in Cleveland the same year. The Black Lives Matter movement is, for Rankine, “an attempt to keep mourning an open dynamic in our culture because black lives exist in a state of precariousness.”
This transfiguration is not novel. It is a return to form. The tightly intertwined stories of the white working class and black Americans go back to the prehistory of the United States—and the use of one as a cudgel to silence the claims of the other goes back nearly as far. Like the black working class, the white working class originated in bondage—the former in the lifelong bondage of slavery, the latter in the temporary bondage of indenture. In the early 17th century, these two classes were remarkably, though not totally, free of racist enmity. But by the 18th century, the country’s master class had begun etching race into law while phasing out indentured servitude in favor of a more enduring labor solution. From these and other changes of law and economy, a bargain emerged: The descendants of indenture would enjoy the full benefits of whiteness, the most definitional benefit being that they would never sink to the level of the slave. But if the bargain protected white workers from slavery, it did not protect them from near-slave wages or backbreaking labor to attain them, and always there lurked a fear of having their benefits revoked. This early white working class “expressed soaring desires to be rid of the age-old inequalities of Europe and of any hint of slavery,” according to David R. Roediger, a professor of American studies at the University of Kansas. “They also expressed the rather more pedestrian goal of simply not being mistaken for slaves, or ‘negers’ or ‘negurs.’ ”