Sunday, September 11, 2011

Civil Rights and Our Part In Current Times.

I saw a movie last night called “The Help”. This picture was incredibly moving and immensely inspirational. I feel it is a must see for people in this day who easily forget that the road to civil liberties for blacks was paved, not long ago, by the hard work of compassionate and committed people in the violent era of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

I have to stop there for a minute to expound upon that, the 1950’s and 1960’s. My mother was born in the year 1960. She was a baby during some of the most heated times such as the 1960 lunch-counter sit-ins at the Wollworth department store in Greensboro, North Carolina and the ‘Freedom Rides’ of 1961. She had just turned 3 years old when a month later the leader of the Jackson, Mississippi chapter of the NAACP, Medgar Evers, was shot and killed at his home. That same year four little girls were killed in the bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama church. Also in late August 1963 was the year the infamous Martin Luther King Jr. gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in the nation’s capital.

Our generation is not so far removed from this historic time that the effects of such ungodly treatment of blacks is not still lingering in the hearts and minds of young black men and women. Think about it this way. I am 27 years old. My mother is now 51. My grandmother who recently died at the age of 71 was a young adult with a baby during that time. So if my family would have simply been born black I would have a grandmother who dealt with racial terrorism, was denied the right to vote, not allowed to drink from certain water fountains, unable to sit in certain areas of public transportation vehicles, unable to have her children attend certain schools, unable to obtain decent, let alone equal paying jobs, unable to purchase a home where she chose, etc. The list of inequity is far outreaching and I have not so much as touched upon the treatment these black men, women, and children faced in their everyday lives in the seemingly simplest forms of denied respect from their white neighbors. My grandmother would have been ignored, scoffed at, treated as a slave, spit at, yelled at, and generally treated as less than. All the while having a tiny baby to take care of and rear in the way of her black perspective. Then along come my older sister, me, and my younger brother. All black children of a black mother who was raised by her black mother who knew only 300 hundred years of slavery of her race and lived in a time where blacks were treated sometimes worse than dogs. Do we as white people really, REALLY think that black men, women, and children today are not still affected by this oh so recent past? Are we so arrogant to think that if the tables were turned and it had been white people that lived this past that we would all of sudden now be able to turn off that switch and say oh well? We’ll just move on and forget about it. Slavery and the inability to vote didn’t happen to me, only my mother but she doesn’t matter. What she went through shouldn’t affect me. HOGWASH!!! These people are still out there in our workforce struggling to get an interview, let alone an equal paying job! They have just come out of FORCED poverty. I wonder if in some areas we should still consider it forced poverty. Are they supposed to just stand up and say, I am equal and competent, ready for a college degree and an equal paying job? How it that some think that would be so easy? It is not!

I like to think of it this way. It takes an extremely intelligent, bright, motivated individual to think outside of what they have been taught. The vast majority of people fall into the same patterns of lifestyle that they were raised in i.e. job, education level, political views, religious views, eating habits, other habits, etc. I’m not saying that you should give up, change, or denounce your upbringing. What I’m saying is that we need to have understanding and empathy towards others and simply realize that everybody is brought up with a certain, unique perspective and that is what they have to work with as of now.

Let us all understand that the affirmative action program, reparations such as college tuition grants, medical care and the like for blacks are simple ways of our country saying, we realize what you have done FOR us, what we have done TO you, and the lingering effects of a history so turbulent and filled with hardship. This is the least we could do to help give you a leg up. We believe in you!

"The Help" was such a wonderful movie as it compelled me to challenge some of my current fundamental beliefs that I hold today. Will I look back one day and say, "Wow...I can't believe I had that world-view?!"

Be encouraged my black brothers and sisters by and in the words of a mother.

Brings tears to my eyes every time...