Saturday, February 21, 2015

Modern American Racism

Growing up in Washington, DC during the 1960s, I thought I had seen racism at its ugliest.
I was wrong.
The ugliest examples of racism can be seen in the old black & white photos of lynchings that seemed to be quite popular in the deep south about a century ago. They were so popular, in fact, that they were even made into post cards.
Or how about the pictures we saw in Life Magazine of the police beating black people on the streets of Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, for wanting to eat at a white diner? Remember the fire hoses knocking people over, or the police dogs  tearing their clothes? This was going on during the 60s when I was growing up.
Most of us look at images like that and heave a sigh of relief. Aren't you glad those days are over?
Um, maybe not quite.

At a tender young age I recall seeing the race riots live, from my window overlooking the street where I lived, after the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968.  We were afraid to go to school, or to work, or to the store. We were afraid to outside at all.  It was looking awful scary out there. I saw National Guard soldiers carrying rifles with bayonets marching along the street right outside my house. Memories like that tend to stay with you a long time.

So now "the colored folks" as we used to call African Americans back then, can eat in our restaurants, go to our schools, and do everything else the rest of us do, and we feel we are so much more civilized now than we used to be.

But what happened after we got our first black president?
President Obama has done so much good for our country, and yet there are those who want to get him impeached. This pisses me off! People have the audacity to call him "the worst president ever" after having a president who doubled the deficit and committed war crimes he still needs to answer for.  Our current president has done wonders for our economic recovery, but the Republicans don't want to give him any credit for it. Could it be because he's black? (and also a  Democrat?) Yeah, that's what I think. Remember which party it was that supported the Civil Rights Movement.

Back in August, racism once again reared it's ugly head in the streets of America, starting with Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. After that there were more blacks being killed by police, such as Eric Garner,  John Crawford, Trayvon Martin, and even a 12-year-old kid named Tamir Rice.  Each time the police not only got away with it, but some were even cheering for them!
Now I'm not going to say all police are bad. Although I have seen many who are very bad, I have seen just as many who are very good.  I can say the same about any demographic of people. Sure, there are good and bad in all of us, and that I'll never deny.
But it surely sickened me when the people defending the police have never expressed any sympathy or regret for the people they killed, or for their families.
It grieves my heart to discover that we haven't progressed as much as we like to think.

Recently I have read a book called "Death of a King" by Tavis Smiley.

There was a conflict between Dr. King and Malcolm X that caught my attention.
Malcolm claimed that Dr. King's pacifism would only work if our government had a conscience, which it does not. Dr. King always hated to hear the chants of "Kill Whitey!"  Stokely Carmichael did not always agree with Dr. King, but he believed they all needed to work together for the common cause. Sometimes I wonder if maybe Malcolm X was right, but I tend to agree with John F Kennedy when he said...

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."