Wednesday, October 28, 2009

1971 vs 2009 -- in the South

I watched Remember the Titans the other day in school. It's really a movie that I enjoy, but the message it carries has never been more ironic, nor more needed.

Thirty Years Ago
The movie is set in 1971, someplace in Virginia. The black and white schools are being forcibly integrated because "it's the right thing to do", but nobody's happy about it. The town in which Remember the Titans is set is predominantly white, and the new black coach [Denzel Washington, whoop whoop!] has more than a few complaints, including bricks thrown through his window. In that movie, as in most PC movies, it's white vs black, and the Black Man is the victim and the white man his dominating foe.
These Days
That is just not the case anymore, at least in my corner of the globe. In my school, a nice big high school in Georgia, it's 75% black and "we whites" are in the minority. I mean in no way to foster hostile feelings by anyone against anyone for any reason. However, I do observe that many people in my school, who happen to be black, have their own stereotypes against whites. Black people are no longer the victims here: they are in the majority and have their say. Certainly many poor young people who are African-American look upon me with contempt and mistrust because I am white. I do not know them. I have never met them. I try to be a nice person, especially with acquaintances who don't know me.
The Background
My parents are from the North, though we lived in Arkansas for the majority of my childhood years. Arkansas, you guys! Think the good ole South.

The truth is, I didn't understand racism until I moved here to Georgia. Why? Because my parents, in the North, didn't really think about it. And the people in my small town didn't foster it. Racism was a foreign word, one vaguely recognized from our textbooks in third grade. In fact, one black friend of mine, I spent a lot of my time trying to impress, because she was in gymnastics and matter-of-fact, she was just cool. Black? It didn't mean anything to me. All the things people say, the "I Have a Dream" speech, the decrying of judging people based on their color, it came true in our town where people didn't even MENTION racism.

How do I know that? Because I was insulated from it for much of my young life.
Right Now
I simply am amazed at the continual hue and cry for "victims" in the US, regardless of who they are. You could say that everyone in America has been a victim at some point. But the truth is, from my limited and very young experience, we [my generation] are at least equal. Everything possible has been done to ensure a level playing field, at least in the academic arena. For us, it is no longer, "Can the long-standing Caucasian population grit their teeth and bear the African-American person being shown equality?" It is more, "Now that equality has been attempted multiple times, and many things have changed, can we all co-exist in peace?"

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