The world is still upside down. COVID-19 is still running rampant. And protests are still taking place all over the world.
Some have asked, why do we still have to march/protest for equal rights when the generation before us already went through this? Most, if not all, of us have seen the black and white footage of Black and White people protesting in the street during the Montgomery Bus Boycott or outside of department stores where Black people were not allowed to enter. We remember the signs and the chants and the answering water hoses, police batons, and attack dogs.
None of it was pretty, but we remember.
So why, in 2020, are we still required to march?
The answer to this question came from one of the many documentaries I have binge-watched in the past few weeks called African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. I was on the episode that highlighted Brown V Board of Education and more specifically Ruby Bridges. For those that don’t know, she was a six-year-old girl that desegregated an elementary school in Louisiana in 1954. While she walked up the steps, flanked by federal marshals, a crowd of angry White parents yelled at her waving their fists and holding up signs of protest.
As soon as she entered the school, White mothers stormed inside to remove their children, so insistent were they that their child would not learn in the same building as a Negro girl (though they of course called her much worse).
I got two things from that clip:
- My little lady is six and I can’t honestly say I would put her in that same position. You have to really be able to see the bigger picture to volunteer your child to be subjected to such violent behavior.
- The documentary zoomed in on these parents’ faces as they yelled and screamed at this innocent little girl. The anger and hatred on their faces astounded me and made me think: if they hold so much hatred that they can spew such nasty things at a little girl, then most likely they are teaching their children to hate as well.
Their children are now in their 60s and 70s. Presumably, some of them carried their hatred as adults and then taught it to their own children and grandchildren. Their offspring could have joined the Klan, become a racist police officer, or are holding a sign right now that says All Lives Matter.
This type of racism and hatred is learned and sometimes it’s overt like the people screaming at Ruby and other times it’s subtle but no less hurtful. Generations of racists require generations of freedom fighters who will not be silenced.