MARTIN LUTHER KING JR BIO
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This is not a political piece OR maybe it is. Nevertheless, the recent elections lead me to start thinking about what the world use to look like through the eyes of my children’s grandparents – when they were just kids – products of the 1950’s.
As well-meaning as OUR parents were this is where most of today’s 50, 60 plus year-old Americans picked up the leftover beliefs of an era of ignorance on the behalf of white people feeling a sense of entitlement over another human being.
Until this election I truly believed that WE were the last molds of the “Monstrous old white man” legacy in America that represented hatred and bigotry towards those of color.
Here’s what I saw when I took a real good hard look at the late 1940’s thru the early 1970’s when people still sat down at the kitchen table and ate dinner together while engaging in conversation about how their day went.
God forbid that you take a phone call at dinnertime because that would actually mean having to get up, walk to the phone, and sit down next to the phone because there was a cord attached to the wall. Also, it was well-known and considered bad manners to call anyone or schedule anything during dinnertime. This was a time in history when parents weren’t afraid to tell their kids NO, or swat their ass for misbehaving.
According to inflation calculator, in 1955, a three-minute phone call from Los Angeles to Washington DC cost the equivalent of $17.63 today. Needless to say, electronic communication was limited due to the high cost. Thus, forcing us to look each other in the eye and speak in full sentences during a conversation.
Nevertheless, remember, I said, “Good hard look“, so let me continue… I found that the white man’s generational mindset during the 1950’s thru early 1970’s was based on a solid amount of fear and confusion. Fear that too much information, outside influences, individual idealsism, and education would undermining their way of existence.
Young white boys listening to and adapting to their father’s discriminatory, racist rhetoric for which they dared not question nor disagree with in fear of retribution. A good father would beat, what he considered to be good solid work ethics into his boys with a leather belt if they didn’t understand or comply.
Any child who misbehaved in school was taken into the hallway (up to the mid 1970’s) and wacked on the butt with a wooden paddle (this was their cure for ADD). Most would get hit again (as punishment) when they got home by their God fearing, well-meaning parents.
Young girls throughout time had watched their mothers define themselves by how well the food was prepared and how clean their house was. Women were severely judged on how polished, pressed, and groomed their children were. God forbid that a girl have dreams beyond marrying the right man and (the illusion of) getting an education past high school.
We lived in a world full of well-meaning adults suppressing idealism – it was the father’s way or the highway. Higher education was considered mostly for the “Rich White Folk”. We oppressed Negros while encouraging the Hillbillies and White Trash (in their true ignorance) to persecute the Black man unlawfully while law enforcement and government looked the other way.
For which was a clear violation of simple human decency but the men in the pointy white hats didn’t give a shit about the law – for their hatred was deeper than any human walking the face of this earth.
Now, imagine being a black person in the 1950’s and 60’s – imagine how humiliating it must have been walking up to a public bathroom or water fountain only to see a sign that read, “Blacks” – “Whites”.
Now let’s add insult to injury – the proud Black man having to answer his children’s question as to WHY the white people hated them so much.
Finally the Black people were tired of being treated as third class citizens and were rising up – creating problems – interfering with the white folks comfy lifestyles. Brave people, very brave people who actually stood up in protest some actually loosing their lives (both black and white) in order to pave the way for a better way of life so that ALL of us could live harmoniously together as“Americans”, not defined by the color of our skin. Those people stepped outside the box and said, “Enough!”
Look at how far we’ve come just by taking a good hard look at ourselves in trying to justify these kinds of actions. This was all normal back then – this was the era that my father and my children’s father came from – our parent’s were those kids hanging around the card table on a Saturday evening listening to the rhetoric of racist conversations from “their” burbon breathing father’s.
Do not be fooled into thinking that the scars left on our society from over 60 years ago are gone from either the Black people or the White people. The open wound may have healed but the feelings in some can and will resurface from time to time especially if provoked. Like I said, it truly must have become a part of our DNA.
What really scared me is the self observation of my own actions during this election. I found myself falling into combative rhetoric with not Black people but those white adults for whom truly do not know any better. Mainly due to the richness of their culture continuing to feed off of the pain of another human being and this most certainly lye’s prevalent in their heads and hearts and is much alive today. Thank God for self awareness!
Nevertheless, I find it extremely easy to show compassion for the haters rather than for the leaders who actually do know better, and do understand exactly what they are doing. The leaders who are purposefully guiding these people in whatever direction they chose to take them for their own personal cause, gain or egostical fix.
So, what do we do? We peacefully move forward, doing whatever we can to protect not only our rights but those who are following in the footsteps of their fathers before them in fearing the unknown by demonstrating behaviors of hatred through ignorance.
We let go and let God do the rest – I promise, God never ever makes mistakes, but He will let us continue making the same mistakes over and over again if we insist on not opening our hearts and minds. In this case, it’s for the sake of our Country’s Unity!
We aren’t there yet but we’re getting closer every day – with every conversation that is civil and non combative.
Old habits die hard!
This is where patience, love, compassion, kindness, and understanding for all mankind will triumph further down the road.
I think that Martin Luther King Jr. understood this concept quite well!
“Life is a journey to be enjoyed not endured.”
– Terrye Lovett