Monday, October 24, 2011

Some Reflections on Segregation

by Katherine Scardino

I have told you before that I grew up in a small farming community in the Piney Woods of East Texas. I was up there last weekend and on Sunday I drove the three hours back to the big city listening to the radio. I tuned to CNN on my radio and learned that the Martin Luther King National Memorial dedication ceremonies were ongoing in Washington, D. C. I was a young girl during the 50's and 60's and like most young girls, I was caught up in myself and not much aware of what was going on in the world around me. Only as an adult have I thought about that period of time.

I can remember going to the movie theater in my hometown and noticing that the black boys and girls had to sit in the balcony. I remember watching them walk up the stairs as I sauntered to my cushy seat close to the screen. I remember watching them go to the water fountain marked "Black" while I used the water fountain marked "White." As a girl, I never thought twice about the meaning of all that.

As I was listening to the music and the speeches of men and women who spoke at the dedication ceremony that day, I started reflecting upon that period of time for me. I can honestly state that I never once went to any school with an African American child. Further, I can state that I cannot recall ever having known any African American child or adult during my years in this community. I was an adult before I ever had a black friend or realized the enormity of the Civil Rights movement. I wish I had known Rosa Parks. Ms. Parks is the black lady who refused to sit in the back of the bus, and was subsequently arrested. I am not sure what the crime was, but she was taken to jail because she refused to obey the bus driver and proceed to the back of the bus with all the other black men, women and children, as all the white people, you know, sit in the front of the bus. I know that I would have loved her.

Martin Luther King must have been a courageous man. He was considered not only a a peacemaker (since he won the Nobel Peace Prize) but also an agitator. Without him and other people like him, the Civil Rights movement would not have happened as it did. I believe it would have happened, because no group of people in America can be subordinated as that race was and continue without an uprising. (Remember the Revolutionary War and the Civil War?) But, the message of Martin Luther King was agitate. Speak out for your rights as an American citizen, but do it without violence.

How brave these people had to be to speak out. Mr. King was called every name imaginable; he was stabbed, had rocks thrown at him, his house was bombed, and then, finally James Earl Ray happened along and put a bullet or two in him. But, during this period of uprising and demand for equality, Mr. King never wavered. He never said OK, let's stop now. We can live with what we have. After all, the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education and directed that education in America must be equal. But, I can attest to the fact that during my early school years, that was not the case. And, in my business as an attorney now, from what I can tell, that is still not the case. Our children are not educated equally. We have a long way to go.

It was interesting to me that I even began to listen intently to the MLK dedication ceremonies after my weekend in east Texas. Because, this weekend, I heard the word "nigger" for the first time in years. It was embarrassing and startling to hear someone I know use that term. Of course, as someone who has never learned to hold the tongue and be silent, I did speak out and made it clear that while I cannot demand that she never use that word again, I can demand that it not be used in my presence.

As I drove down the highway, listening to the radio last Sunday, I think I learned something. I learned that every aspect of our childhood does not have to follow you into adulthood. We can learn better ways to do things and better ways to think about our society. We can learn that because of courageous people like Mr. King and Ms. Parks and many others, the African American society in the United States of America can overcome hatred, racism and ignorance. And, we can learn - and remember - what those brave men and women did in the mid-1700's who produced this document called the Constitution of the United States of America that states "all men are created equal" and it is imperative that we uphold that document. It takes time to change, as Mr. King knew, and as our first black president is learning now. We can hope, but change takes longer. We are still changing, but this time around, let's all hope that it is for the good of our country and benefits all of us. What benefits one segment of our society will ultimately benefit all of us.

photo credits ( Trevor.Huxham; caboindex; Elvert Barnes; Elvert Barnes 2


Anonymous said...

Wow I just have to ask you: Where the heck have you been all these years, especially being a Lawyer? Just the weekend of the MLK Memorial Dedication did you hear the word 'nigger' (feels odd being able to actually spell out that word and not have to refer to it as the "N" word). Obviously you don't listen to much rap music or be around many black young people, etc. to have not heard that word in years.

During my youth in the country where I grew up (just a stone's throw away from the USA), white people were the minority then and still are. Believe me when I say that there are many black racist "out there" and not just white racists.

Perhaps if President Barack Obama were regarded as a bi-racial man, and he acknowledged that fact and spoke openly of it the past 4+ years instead of trying to run from it, then it would have served to advance race relations between white and black people in a way far exceeding Martin Luther King, Jr.'s hopes and dreams. A lost opportunity on President Obama's part.

In my opinion, President Barack Obama is NOT the first black President of the United States of America, he's the 1st bi-racial, i.e. 1/2 white & 1/2 black President of the United States of America and his being President should have made race relations between whites and blacks closer instead of where we are today, more divided then ever before in my life time. He could have led the way to mend race relations between whites and blacks for the world's benefit.

Trust me, if President Barack H. Obama were to go down in U.S. history as the worst President ever for whatever reason the Liberals/Democrats saw fit, then and only then will we be reminded of his bi-racial race and the blame would be placed at the foot of his white mother's genes that he inherited.

Race relations have gotten worse under President Barack Obama and even when there is a 100% bona fide Black man, like say Herman Cain sitting in the Oval Office as Commander & Chief race relations between white and black people will not change, for HATE is color blind and that is what is at the root of racism. If I'm not mistaken I think the race card has already been played against Herman Cain, despite his 100% authentic black genes.

I just wish that the thousands and thousands of bi-racial children/adults out there would one day truly be comfortable in their own skin, regardless of its tone. What pressure and pain they must endure while being pulled this way or that way their whole lives by two different races that just cannot seem to forgive and forget how the world was way, way back when.

Anonymous said...

"It takes time to change, as Mr. King knew, and as our first black president is learning now. "

I cannot help but interpret this as, "-and anyone who's against any of BHO's policies just hates him 'cause he's black!" So sick of this attitude. :-(