Sunday, February 24, 2013

What Is Wrong With This Generation?

My father's words ring true in my hears, he is turning over in his grave, and the hard work of an entire generation is being dismantled one-by-one.

What happened to the Gen Xers and Boomer IIs/Jones Generation (born after 1960) that they (the ones of the Caucasian persuasion) are so uncaring, unfeeling, and unknowing of the history that has plagued this country?

State-after-state tried to disenfranchise millions of primarily black and latino Americans from the hard won right to vote.  1965 was the passing of the Voting Rights Act.  One lifetime, someone not yet 50 was born when this law was passed.  The 14th and 15th  Amendment, Section 5  and the Voting Rights Act, Section 5 is up for argument in everywhere from Shelby County, Alabama to the Supreme court.  The very place where the newly elected Governor declared, "segregation now, segregation, segregation forever."

Indiana and other states are invading, literally, the bodies of women in efforts to dismantle Roe v. Wade.  They are legislating and sanctioning rape - while not with a body part, but a probe - anything that is forced into a woman's vagina without her consent or will is rape, plain and simple.

The Heritage Foundation and other far right-wing groups have been up-in-arms about early childhood education and the Common Core Standards as well as their quest to inject their super-conservative interpretation of the Christian scriptures into the public school room.  There have been state legislation to demand Creationism is taught and not real science. Texas comes to mind.

It makes me wonder, on this Sunday morning, while watching Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, what in the world happened to these still-young,primarily-white people to make them so evil-spirited?

Tim Wise, the prolific speaker, writer, and essayist on all matters of White Privilege has been trying for years to wake up his generation to the fact that this country is inherently racist and discriminatory in practices from hiring, housing, education, and voting.  He writes in all his books to remind them that the election (and re-election) of President Barack Obama does NOT make us colorblind and that white liberals do not get a pass on their ingrained white privilege that they get to ignore the mass incarceration of black and latino men, the intentional redistricting of congressional districts to further disenfranchise people of color, the unequal funding of public schools, etc. are all part of white privilege that is still very prevalent.

The topics are uncomfortable and most would want to just push it under a rug, but just as my father, in the mid-1970s, made us watch The Holocaust and Roots so we could learn history and understand it, we must do the same.  What our limited, 150 character world has reduced us to, we must go back, old school, and read the tomes of history and remember what happened so we do not repeat it.

I challenge you, us, to not let our daughters and sons live the darkest days of our nation again.  We are better than that.  We have to be, we must want the best for everyone.  Paying our fair share of taxes is the price we pay for this democracy, that those of us who are in a higher income bracket have a greater responsibility (I am hearing the remnants of scripture ringing in my ears here) and we do have to work together to make this world work.  We have to also acknowledge the collect sin of the country and not try to tell black (and increasingly, latino) peoples to "get over it" about racism any more than we should tell women to get over it regarding sexism.

My husband once told me that I am pretty vocal and strong in my opinions.  He is correct.  I realize that at this midpoint in my life, I have to use this platform to speak out on those things that are visibly wrong.  I may only affect one person, but if that one affects another, just as I told my Bridges Across Racial Polarization group and my CFUH bookclub that they have the power in their hands to make some changes.  I once said and still believe, I don't want your pity or your apology, I want your contacts, I want you to hire me or one who looks like me (incidentally, black women are the most discriminated against in the country) and pay me equally for the expertise I bring to the table.  I told them to speak out against their white friends and family who make disparaging remarks, just as my daughters speak out to me when the pain of history sometimes cause me to say "all white people" instead of "those white people" or "that white person" who did or said something wrong.  Growth happens in a lifetime.

I was born during Freedom Summer.  In my lifetime I sat in classrooms that were mixed race and we all learned together.  I swam in pools that opened up membership to my father and the six kids i grew up with.  I want my daughters to have the world available to them according to their abilities.

There is something in our history that is painful that they want to just push it in one month to be taught.  This can not be.  But in that it is, we can not go back.

1 comment:

  1. You're so right. All of us, no matter where we live and who we are, have to learn and know history so that we don't repeat the past. I say this as someone who was born in Germany and now lives in Australia. As a German I'm very aware that we have to atone in some way for the sins of those who came before us. I studied to be a teacher, so I continue to try to teach people, by getting them to think. Think about how they live their lives, how they judge and treat others. We can only hope that a few of the seeds we sow may fall on fertile ground!


Thoughtful dialogue is appreciated.