By Joe Rector
Okay, let me get this straight. The year is 2019; this is the USA; and we’re again dealing with issues of race. What in the world happened? I must be in a time warp.
The 1960s became the heyday and the battle fields for that social change. After years of segregation, black people stepped out and demanded their equal rights. They wanted an end to separate bathrooms, water fountains, and schools. Folks demanded the right to vote without having to pass a test that even the administrators couldn’t get through. They wanted equal footing in a society that was the greatest in the world. Most of all, the black community wanted the country to put a big period at the end of years of slavery that supposedly ended with the Civil War.
I remember the tension that came with school integration. The first black students arrived at Karns High, and by the time I entered the school only couple of years later, several black students were part of the student population. What we white folks discovered was that humans with different skin color weren’t so much different from us. Teens still ate as if they’d been starved; they struggled through a day filled with classes; and after-school activities kept them busy and out of trouble.
They loved families, friends, and girlfriends and boyfriends. Some had difficulties with other students and people in the community. People who feared “the invasion” of blacks into white communities made no attempts to know folks. They instead dug in to their own prejudices and railed against all of another race. They claimed those blacks were the evil behind every bad thing that went wrong. Folks jeered at them to “go back where they came from.”
Sixty years later, the same ugly sentiments are rising. Political leaders demonize people who don’t look like them. They use scare tactics that say “the enemy” will take over the country, steal jobs, and live free off the efforts of others. Racist feelings and actions spew over into deplorable actions like the one that occurred in Charlottesville not so long ago. The incidents of hate crimes spike, all with the blessings of a government that remains silent in face of a return to division.
Before anyone states that I don’t tell the whole story, I will admit that not every person in these groups is law abiding. Some who cross the border have nefarious reasons for entering the country. Not every individual of a minority community chooses to obey the laws. However, those statements hold just a true for white folks. All groups have criminals, scammers, and moochers. However, for the most part, communities of all kinds are comprised of people who work hard to make ends meet and to provide for their families. These are the majorities toward whom our attentions should be aimed.
I’m stunned that the same things that plagued the U.S. sixty years ago are once again rearing their ugly heads. One should have thought that we’d have evolved enough to get passed the beliefs of inferiorities of a group based upon its skin color. We’re headed for a whole bunch of heartbreak and strife if we are unable to do better. Leaders who spew such hate, bigotry and division must be ignored and ousted. That’s the call of the Christian basis on which so many declare this country was founded.
The future holds wonderful challenges and victories for us, but first we must turn toward it and shut the door on the mistakes that were made before. Reliving or reintroducing them leads only to stagnation and continued problems. Let’s get on with the making of a better world, not reviving a dysfunctional one.