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...


  1. wow. deep and insightful. wonder what sean thinks of this...

  2. This is true but at the sametime I think we can get overwhelmed by the talk of just blacks. It angers me deeply that the Native Americans, Irish, Russians, Ukraines, homosexuals and in other countries Jews, Gypsies,ect. were treated in horrible ways and in some ways I believe it is forgotten. I see no Native American history month not even a day. My Grandmother was burried in the early 70's. She had never cut her hair and was always in a bun. The funeral home as a joke cut it off at the top. That is still a story I will remember the rest of my life. Yet Native Americans put it behind them and bettered themselves. As well as the immigrants that came over here in the 20's and the survivors of the Holocaust. I agree it should NEVER be forgotten but the black race isn't the only race that has suffered. I truly feel for what they went through and it is a part of history that needs to be taught. My black elderly clients are some of the most intellegent people I have spoke too. I can listen to them for hours. Some are in there late 80's. I have several in East St. Louis, Venice, Madison and it floors me to hear them talk about the younger generation. Gangs, disrespect, convicts have taken over that area. I will never forget one of my clients Lily whom I can not go visit anymore because I was harrassed so bad last time I pulled up in her driveway. She said I worked so hard to get an education, a status, a job and respect and the younger generation is taking advantage of it. They use what happened to me as what they deserve today. It stuck with me to this day. Lily is an 85 year old black woman who was talking about her own son, daughter, grandson and community. Many her age feel the same way. I am not saying by anymeans this refers to everyone so please do not take it that way. But I am saying when a terrible thing happens lets learn from it and grow. I remember in grade school the pricipal asking my Mom if we could check Native American on our ISaT testing because the school would get "extra money" she was appalled by it. She said a few choice words to them and said No they may not. My kids will not be used so you can benefit. My Grandpa always said I was kicked out of bars, called an engine, a red man but it made me stronger. I say let's not forget history but let move forward and work together as humans not a race. Bill Cosby said it best..... We are all Americans here. If you want to classify us as African Americans than make sure if your Great, Great Grandpa was for Germany you classify yourself as a German American or if they were from Ireland than say Irish American. We are all American and everyone no matter what deserves to be treated fairly and with respect.

  3. As a young black female that has worked extra hard in life, had my first child at 16 who is actually making 17 yrs old today I feel that some blacks have just used the past as a crutch an excuse as to why they don't want to work hard. Yes, it's much more unbalanced for us; however, we are not the only ones. For example, a homosexual will have many problems obtaining employment and other rights as blacks. Hell, they are not even wanted in the military to fight wars that I still have no clue what we have to do with. Now that's awful when you look down on someone saying I will risk my life for something other than my family, really America? My life is what some would call the statistic, young mother, husband of a convicted felon, ect. But, I refused to go on Welfare bcuz it was available, I graduated high school with honors and attended college for a while. Since, its practically impossible for my husband to obtain decent employment we opened our own business, working real hard & going without to do this. Drugs are flushed in our neighborhoods, it's almost impossible to avoid having some type of relationship with it, either usage or sales. The money is so easy & it makes jail seem like a worth while chance to take when you have a mother struggling to pay the bills, disconnections of your basic needs, hungry sisters and brothers at home, no father, or family to call for help. Fast money for the family sounds great especially when ever business you walk into tells you they are not hiring with a look of fear on their face. I wish that someone who has REALLY lived this life, not those that grew up in the ghetto but wasn't allowed outside could work to educate and uplift our race. It amazes me that America would spend more money paying rappers to pretend like they've spent an abundance of time destroying our race and country vs paying that money to individuals who has REALLY lived it to help make things better. Giving life in prison to a drug dealer is ridiculous when child molesters and drunk driver's can get 6 mths. Who has left families and individuals hurt the most. I think things will never improve as long as the problem is ignored or excuses are made for the problem.