We've finished our last lecture with a discussion of the 1936 Soviet film circles in which an American actress realizes how much better, more equal and just the young Soviet society is by comparison to her homeland. But we didn't discuss what specifically she experienced in Moscow that impressed her so much. Well, her experience had much to do with the fact that she was a white woman who had the black child out of wedlock and that she had been persecuted in the United States for her adultery and interracial relations. In Moscow, she kept her child a secret, expecting nothing but hostility from her Soviet colleagues assuming that anti-miscegenation laws against mixed race reproduction and the contempt for interracial relations in general were spread far beyond the United States. But when the secret is revealed during her final performance in the circus, she's stunned to see that her black child is nothing to be ashamed of in the Soviet Union. The child in fact gets passed around from hand to hand through the ethnically diverse crowd of viewers. They lovingly cuddle him, singing a lullaby in the languages of diverse Soviet ethnic groups. It is an ultimate image of a socialist unity where everybody regardless of race and the ethnicity finds an equal place. What was driving this kind of Soviet representations of both American and Soviet attitudes towards race and ethnicity? We will discuss this question today through two main path of inquiry. First, I will talk about the perceptions of Soviet travelers around race in the United States and second, I will discuss some of the Soviet policies regarding nationality and ethnicity after the Russian Revolution which provided the prison for Soviet travelers to understand racial relations in the United States. In 1935, two Russian writers, Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov highly popular still today for their satirical novels, spent two months driving through the United States taking photographs and documenting their observations which they published in 1937 as a travelogue one-storied America. While driving through North Carolina's destitute block villages, issues of race came to the center of their attention. Rather than imposing their own judgment on this state of things, the writer's directly reproduce a conversation with a young white farmer who they pick up for a ride. What we take away from this conversation is a white American farmer's narrow mindedness and ignorance. While he agrees that black Americans are good people, he's horrified by the idea of eating dinner with them at the same table. He says that while he could imagine falling in love with a black woman, he's repulsed by the thought of marrying such a woman. In some Petrov's writing, suggests that this is simply a natural state of things for this young man. His lack of understanding of broader historical, political, economic, and cultural forces at play in his own perceptions of blacks becomes, for the Soviet writers, the reason for the persistence of segregation and oppression throughout the United States. Vladimir Mayakovsky, a celebrated post-revolutionary poet who traveled through the American continent a bit earlier in 1924, offers an even more sinister portrait, this time of sophisticated New Yorkers. Confronted with the extreme diversity of the city's population, walking through the Black, Jewish, Italian, Irish, Chinese and German neighborhoods, he wonders how Americans understand what an American is. The answer for him comes down to race. It is the white Americans who understand themselves as Americans and whom we call [inaudible] are racists. They would never shake a black hand. They would continue to sexual assault black girls without any legal consequences and they would violently lynch a black man who would dare to be in the company of a white woman. But Mayakovsky asks, why could it not be a black American who would properly define the meaning of American? He highlights the cultural achievement of American blacks especially in dance and music, noting that jazz is perceived internationally as American while having emerged out of the country's black culture. But the particularly interesting point that Mayakovsky makes is related to the black community's international outreach. They're connecting to the people across the world who they see as their own including the French nineteenth-century writer Alexandre Dumas, the American 19th and 20th century painter Henry Ossawa Tanner who lived in Paris and of course, the celebrated 19th century father of modern Russian literature Alexander Pushkin who was partially of African descent. Such an international outreach generates an imagined community which from Mayakovsky is revolutionary in its implications. A community brought together by the experience of oppression, Pushkin after all, would not be allowed into a fancy New York hotel Mayakovsky says. As such, the black communities that came to the international proletarian organization where workers powerfully unite in their class struggle. For Mayakovsky thus and many other writers who traveled to the United States, the plight of blacks often becomes a way of reflection on Russian revolutionary struggles and it is the white American that emerges as the common enemy for both the international proletariat and the international community of blacks. Such individual perceptions of American race relations, as we see in the works of Ilya Ilf and Petrov as well as Mayakovsky were supported by Soviet revolutionary ideology. That sought equality for all nationalities, ethnicities, and races. Indeed, Soviet racial concepts were framed by Soviet nationality policies which I will now turn to briefly. As you might remember from our introductory chapter, the Soviet empire consisted of the union of diverse nationalities and ethnic groups. Each of the 15 Soviet republics consisted of a major national group such as Georgian, Uzbek, Latvian and so-forth, but many other ethnicities resided within these republics. The policies that the Soviet regime began to implement soon after the revolution were directed towards the preservation of national identities, languages, and traditions. These policies were driven not only by ideology, but also by practical goal. The government needed to prevent national and ethnic separatism. The long-term goal was to create socialist unity in which distinctive ethnic identities would peacefully co-exist. It was a fine line to walk. On the one hand, the Soviet regime wanted to ensure the development of a national and ethnic consciousness. On the other hand, it also needed to ensure that this consciousness did not evolve so far as to lead to the Soviet republics separation from the union. As the historian, Terry Martin argued, the Soviet Union was one of the earliest global cases of an affirmative action empire. The racial segregation and profiling as practiced by the United States and the 1930s, was understood by the Soviet to be a zoological thinking akin to the NATO regime and foreign to the socialist cause. Yet our discussion would be solely incomplete if we finished on this note. With the argument that races was foreign to Soviet and Russian culture. The Soviet peaceful coexistence of multiple ethnicities is only one side of the coin. The other side has been full of conflicts that stretched from banal everyday prejudices to institutional oppression to military confrontation. Stalin's regime in particular, engaged in an extensive practice of resettlements and deportations where entire ethnic groups, groups that were deemed as potentially dangerous to the regime were ordered to move to remote and unpopulated areas of the country. As much as the Soviet cultural representatives criticized American racism, their own Soviet affirmative action empire remained an elusive ideal. In the following chapter, we will move to the next segment of our discussions which encompasses Soviet-American relations and conflicts during the Cold War.