We have made progress!
By Robert B. Holston Jr.
January 23, 2021
I would say that America has grown into a very UN-racist society even at the same time we have witnessed such unconscionable deaths as George Floyd’s televised murder.
When I first became aware of people of color it was through grade school track-meets with the reservation towns of Dayton and Elmo, Montana. My two room country school house was only 5 miles from the Flathead Indian Reservation and we competed once a year by going to track-meets. Of course I viewed The Lone Ranger and Tonto on TV and Tonto became my Kemo Sabe. I was probably 17 years old when I saw my first black person. So it is easy to say I was mostly insulated from “racism” as a young person.
So I write this message NOW because I have proof that a lot of racial change in my lifetime has been ‘positive’. Many times during the 2020 BLM riots, the Lebron James types of the world were decrying that “Nothing has changed.” I say “Not so fast.” While on the same newscast that aired Lebron, we had black mayors of major US cities being interviewed, oh, I failed to mention, including FEMALE black mayors……. followed by black police chiefs of major cities.......... oh, I failed to mention, including FEMALE black police chiefs. Racial and sexual inequality seem to go hand in hand and so I say hats off to those women AND men of color who have climbed to the top of their professions and are representing the progress that this country HAS made.
So when I listen to Lebron James say “Nothing has changed.” and this comes from a black man who would have been denied entrance into most colleges the year I was born and now he earns more playing 12 minutes of basketball than this “white boy” earns in a year! I would argue that a whole lot HAS changed. I was born in 1948, the year we had 3 black men in the NBA.
Back when I was a kid and into my early adult years the only black people we saw on TV were a few jazz musicians and a few sports stars....... and they were always a tiny minority representation of the actual black population. But now we have blacks hosting TV shows, anchoring news programs, not only playing sports but sports commentators. TV commercials now show blacks and other people of color at a ratio representative of the actual U.S. population. Are there areas that can still be improved? Oh yea, but to say “Nothing has changed.” is simply a ploy. We elected a black president.........twice! Now we have elected a black, woman VP. And don’t forget Lloyd Austin selected as the first ever black man as our U.S. Defense Secretary.
Now, the proof of my assertion that we do have a lot of success to celebrate on our cultural journey FROM systemic racism is the death of Hank Aaron. As I listen to Stephen A. Smith, the celebrated black ESPN sports commentator, his white sidekick, Max along with ‘woman of color’, Molly Qerim they speak in glowing fashion about Hank Aaron...... and rightly so. However some historic facts they speak of are the horrific acts of racism that Hank had to withstand. Hank Aaron received up to 3,000 “hate letters” per DAY !?!?!?!?! Stephen, Max and Molly were astonished. So am I, but it is a huge statement of proof to my assertion that during the 1950’s and 60’s we DID have systemic racism and now, 60-70 years later, we don’t.
I’m not saying we don’t have racism in America but when held up to the measure of Hank Aarons’ early years, WOW have we made progress! As for the murder of George Floyd and other incidents of police brutality. Still unacceptable, detestable and those guilty MUST be fully prosecuted. But that should not infer that “Nothing has changed.”
Received January 23, 2021 - Published January 23, 2021
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