Sunday, July 21, 2013
Racism in the 1950s - Racism Now
In the 1950s every black person understood that a black man walking alone on a rural Chester County road risked being a hit-and-run victim and every black woman walking alone on a rural Chester County road risked being a rape victim. A lone black walker in rural Chester County faces less risk now. But that's mostly because there are less rural areas in Chester County.
The KKK, Keystone United, White Nationalist and Neo-Nazi groups are alive and mostly expanding in Pennsylvania. (The Keystone Skinheads changed their name to a " family friendly" "Keystone United".
About 10 years ago a young black successful interior designer and her engineer husband were looking at older homes in rural western Montgomery County. There are many 18th and early 19th Century homes there. I advised them to consider their personal safety. The KKK/Skinheads were then and to this day continue to have their "family events" along the Perkiomen Creek. Black people living in rural areas of Pennsylvania even in the more civilized area of Southeastern Pennsylvania need to be aware of the threats to their personal safety.
The thing is she was surprised that her life and her husband’s life would be in jeopardy just by living in a rural area of Montgomery County, PA. I took that as a sign of progress in race relations in the United States.
My interior designer friend grew up in the Germantown area of Philadelphia. She designed interiors for multiracial corporations. Racism of the life threatening kind was not a part of her life. But her mother might have understood my concern.
On Friday President Obama said:
“And let me just leave you with a final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they’re better than we are -- they’re better than we were -- on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.”
I think we have walked a long way. But there's a longer way to go. I believe that each new generation will bring us more together.
Posted by James Pitcherella at 3:46 PM