Older White People – Were You Racist 50 Years Ago?

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “I Have A Dream” it’s caused me to  look inward & examine how I really feel about White people in this country. Let me start off by saying that people of all races get on my nerves, so I certainly don’t discriminate in that regard. But sometimes when I see older Whites (male or female) I often ask myself, “I wonder how they felt about Black people 50 years ago?”

Let’s review our history, shall we? Integration in our school systems wasn’t really enforced until 1957 (Brown v. Board of Education, 1955) and the Civil Rights Act wasn’t passed until 1964, prohibiting discrimination based on a plethora of things, including race. Basically, less than 50 years ago the majority of Whites in this country didn’t think that Blacks were good to enough to go to school with, let alone hire. So, I often wonder do White people of that generation take issue with the way things are now?

In my daily comings & goings I often encounter older White people and when time permits I sometimes stop & ask them their true feelings about the Civil Rights era. I ask them how they view African Americans in this country today. I also inquire as to whether or not they raised their children to be against minorities, Affirmative Action or equal rights especially since that was simply the way things were for their generation. And I also wonder what these same older White people are doing today in 2013 to help unify this country, eradicate racism and promote equality.

After I have these discussions with older White people, I speculate on what life will be like in 30 or 40 years when Whites become the minority in this country. Will I be able to empathize with them? Will I fight for their “equal” rights even though they didn’t fight for ours?

On this 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington it’s nice to see so many people standing up for what’s right. But as the 11-time NBA Championship winner Bill Russell said in his speech today, “You can only measure progress by how far you have to go”.


13 thoughts on “Older White People – Were You Racist 50 Years Ago?

  1. Hey there O.M..Waving! (headed sometime today to check out your last post @pregnancy)..Oh, C.V.? I guess this is a classic example of perception; honestly didn’t view your post as a rant nor ignorant..I’ll see if I can explain why so everyone can understand where I’m coming from.(Which is dang near impossible! Because regardless of how good a writer IS? Someone is almost always going to misinterpret what the “intent” was of the writer..Stuff happens! Even when one has the best intentions…) Moving right along to your post topic…>>

    I talk to alot of people..On an array of things..Everywhere & ANYwhere I go people/folks talk to me..Many times I’ve been known to say its as if I’ve got a sign on my forehead saying, ‘ I love to talk…’ I’ve a gift for gab & I use it naturally..I’m a people loving sociable butterfly…What I’ve learned about other cultures/backgrounds/walks of life; has been not only from the VAST amount of books I’ve read..but from actual voice to voice(yep, have to add that point these days…) with people face to face. C.V. I would’ve LOVED to have heard some of those responses…On the flip side of that? I’d also like to add to that the sentiment felt from Black folks who lived at that time…Compare the two..The truth IS I actually know , personally, Black folks who did LIVE that experience 50 years ago..

    From my own parents…My Daddy was one of the first in the class to integrate a highly infamous Catholic school in New Orleans..To a host of my parents friends who actually DID march in the first MLK, Jr march into D.C..To my friends & my exmominlaw parents who were very active in sit-ins, walks, marches…It is ONE thing to read about such events; it is another to see the pain, still! 50 yrs later, in folks faces who lived such experiences(..as they recant their experiences) ..NO comparison to what this generation has read in books..

    IF elder White folks were honest of their experience 50 years ago here in our country? I think they’d tell you it took MUCH courage for Whites to stand UP for civil rights back then…Many of them who did? Were treated just as bad as Black folks; IF not worse! They often were completely dis-owned by their own family for doing so..Mind you this practice did NOT stop in the 60s..Even as late as the 90s I’ve heard personal accounts from people who said the same would still happen , IF, they were considered condoning of civil rights. Especially places in the South..

    Truth be told? It was the prevailing message at the time for Whites (and taught from birth) to hate Blacks; simply based on the color of their skin. Imagine trying to flip-flop any of your beliefs you’ve held since birth for years and years…I take that to simply mean it would be dang near impossible to CHANGE that mindset in those folks..Mind you I said dang near for I do believe in miracles..And its a good thing I do; because it WILL take a miracle for our country to be totally rid of the tainted funky stench of racism…It has impacted and affected all of us. Including you and me…I’m beginning to think, & feel at 50 years of age; that some of the impact can’t be reversed. It will take tolerance. It will take seering honesty! It will NOT involve placing blame or finger pointing or fussing..Enough of that has been said & done.

    I enjoyed as always reading your thought process my Sista…Keep thinking & for heavens sake keep writing! 🙂

  2. @…”But as the 11-time NBA Championship winner Bill Russell said in his speech today, “You can only measure progress by how far you have to go”…” EXCELLENT commentary from Bill Russell in my opinion…And this is an awfully good topic C.V..Awfully good & timely!..When time permits I’ll be back in a bit to further comment

  3. “I wonder how they felt about black people 50 years ago” uh… stereotype much? lol… what makes you think they had an opinion on blacks? Also read a freaking book, there were tons of white activists for black rights. And no I am not white.

    1. Of course, there were White activists & activists of all colors back in the 60’s. My point was that the MAJORITY of White people were against minorities, hence the whole integration movement. (Jim Crow era ring a bell?)

      Thanks for reading my post & adding your comments. I love it!!

      1. I would work on clarifying my writing then. This came off as an ignorant minority rant, which I don’t think was your intention. But nice post and thanks for the reply!

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