This morning on Morning Joe on MSNBC two authors were introduced to discuss racism in America as it relates to the Flint, Michigan water crisis.
Bryan Stevens (America’s Original Sin) and Professor Eddie S Glaude Jr (Democracy in Black) were the guest. The discussion covered the same old ground of changing demographics the answer to the move toward a multicultural society.
The thing that struck me was that after everyone expressed their opinion, there was a commercial, and then the show moved on to a completely different subject – the prior discussion on race forgotten.
This is personification of the race issue in this country – state an opinion and then move to the next more exciting subject.
We all believe what we believe, and when it does not directly affect us we state an opinion and then move on.
It is my contention that any subject of discussion has to be brought back into the context of a personal history (instead of the history of a movement) to truly understand it.
My grandmother was born in the Mississippi Delta in 1892, shortly after the Civil War. Racist is not the word I would use to describe her. She was raised by parents whose cultural values had been destroyed by reconstruction. She did not hate black people but honestly felt that they were inferior, and she was terrified of black men. There was no cultural advancement that she could accept. She and her generation of white southerners had to die out in order for some incremental change to occur.
My mother, born about 1920, did not have the same history as her mother (my grandmother,) but her disrespect for black people was impressed by being raised in the segregated south and the prejudice of her mother and mother’s family. She could truly be called a racist. She and her generation of southerners had to die off before racist attitudes at that level could incrementally modify.
I was raised in western Kentucky where there were only a few black people, and the half dozen black children in the county attended the school with whites. I moved to Mississippi as a preteen without the inherited prejudice of children born and raised in the segregated Delta land. I left Mississippi when I was eighteen and never returned. Had I been born and raised and remained in the racist environment of the Mississippi Delta of the 1940’s and 50’s, I have no doubt that my values would reflect my demographics’ covert racism that exist there .
It is not until my generation, and possibly the next two generations succeeding me, die out that attitudes can truly evolve toward multiculturalism; and among the least intelligent and least educated of the southern red necks, entrenched against change, it may never be accomplished – for ignorance is a breeding ground for bigotry and intolerance.
It is just an ol’man’s observation