A lot has changed “legally” since the 1950s, but itwasn’t without a lot of sacrifices. In everything from Brownvs. The Board of Education to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ourparents and grandparents have made an uncountable amount ofsacrifices in order for future generations to have betteropportunities. Let’s not forget about the numerous riots thattook place between 1965 and 1970, all a part of the struggle forcivil rights as well. However, I think that in today’ssociety, many African-Americans have taken these opportunities forgranted.
Many African-Americans in today’s generation speak ofracism as if it has the same impact as it did in the 50s. Theessence of racism is the same, but the implementation of it sincethen has shifted.
To start, let’s take a look at some of the”unwritten rules” that African-Americans had to follow,aside from what Jim Crow Laws stated. During those times,African-Americans could not look a white person in the eyes, therewas no “talking back” to white people, and they hadbetter answer them if they called.
If a white person was approaching on the same sidewalk as anAfrican-American, this African-American had better get off onto thestreet before the white man comes.
Although Jim Crow laws prohibited interracial dating, white menwere still able to “intermingle” with African-Americanwomen. It’s important to understand that if African-Americansbroke these rules, they would have been seen as being”uppity” and would have been hung from a tree in theblink of an eye.
This was an era in which racism was not only blatant, but alsovery much the societal norm. This was a time when it was perfectlynormal for white people to drive to town and see anAfrican-American swinging from the “trendy” tree as awarning to other African-Americans who step out of line.
This was the life that our parents/grandparents/greatgrandparents fought so hard to get away from. They did that despitethe fact that they died every day and had fewer resources. Thatgeneration literally did a whole lot more with a whole lotless.
Now I look at this generation, which has a lot more resourcesand a lot more opportunities, and I see a lot less drive and visionin the struggle that our predecessors have established for us. Ithink that it’s important to understand that just because weare not hanging from trees “as much” anymore, theproblem still needs to be addressed.
The thing that is vital in this generation is that the olderversion of racism has been forced to upgrade. Legally, blatantracism is prohibited, under The Civil Rights Act. But this Actcould not amend the demeanor of the racist individuals. People werestill being hung for several years after The Civil Rights Act.
The significance of racism in my generation is that it is lessattentive in the physical aspect and more on the human psyche. Theultimate struggle with this transformed problem requires differentsolutions for dealing with it.
Denial, tolerance and ignorance now play an even bigger part inthe growth and reduction of racism. It is one of those things whereif action is not made a part of the solution for reducing racism,it will continue to grow. Therefore, it can be easier for racism tobecome worse if people are in denial about their perpetuation ofit. This new era is about the elimination of ignorance withinpeople’s racist attitudes, because racism is more covert now.It is also about putting action behind their “newlyfound” responsibilities.
A lot of opportunities have increased for African-Americans, butas stated before, the level of drive and competence have stayed thesame. Things are a lot easier to take for granted, especially whenracism’s presence is hard to detect. This is the case ofracism today.
We will have to upgrade our level of competence and drive if wewant to effectively battle against hate. The older generation haskicked down a lot of doors for us to have more opportunities.Unfortunately, the people who were once active in the mid-1900s aredealing with other physical restrictions.
It is now our job as the younger generation to walk throughthese doors and break down other barriers for the next generation.There are a lot of different challenges for us in these new times.Being that our boundaries are not as narrow as the earliergeneration, there are a lot more distractions.
Discipline, commitment and integrity must continue to be some ofour key values. We must look ahead to the future and create abetter foundation for future generations. I believe it can be done,but we must get off of the sidelines.