Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April, 2019

1319.98 Rastus, the Black Robot

How to build a non-threatening Black man. Recently a colleague introduced me to a podcast, The Nod, hosted by Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings, which explores the dimensions of the Black experience, a particular episode included a discussion about Rastus, the "mechanical Negro", a black male robot built by Westinghouse Research Laboratories in the 1930s. The guest being interviewed had a picture in which the hosts described as a realistic looking black man wearing overalls and a bandana, typical sharecropper's attire. I was beyond shocked and scoured the internet for more information, there wasn't much. 

Westinghouse planned to manufacture and sell 'safe' mechanical Negros, and created Rastus. The official sales description published in the New York Times, stated the robot could rise, sweep, move hands, all at their master's request and has the power of speech. 
This likeness of an African American humanoid and the reasoning behind the need of a black robot, s…