50 years later, prejudice still exists
By Joe Black | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here’s the way these things start: An idea, a quote, a phrase from a song (last week), a sermon, a comment from someone who gave no thought to the possibility that their words could end up as the source for this column.
Week before last, I was talking to a friend about his new job. He was excited about the possibilities but expressed disappointment that he had to go out of town to find this job, that maybe job opportunities here weren’t as good as they should be because of the color of his skin.
My first thought was “in Blount County?” Surely we are beyond prejudices and allowing race determine opportunity here. Surely.
But I know this guy and I trust him and he is in a position to see that side of us all and maybe he really has experienced all this. Even in 2013 with the White House occupied by a mixed race individual.
Tuesday is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which featured Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
So last Sunday morning, I was thinking about a column about race relations and persistent prejudice even in a place like Maryville, Tennessee. But I wasn’t sure where it would go.
It was just some random group of thoughts running around inside my head, not knowing where to land but knowing that this was a topic that could generate some measure of controversy.
And then my wife and I go out for a movie that she and I both wanted to see, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”
Oh, my. It’s about Cecil Gaines, a butler in the White House that served eight Presidents, from Eisenhower to Reagan.
Along the way, he faces trials and tribulations that most of us can’t even imagine. Although based on a real person, the movie folks took a lot of liberties with the story.
Still it is historically accurate, from the post-Reconstruction south to the civil rights movement to Obama in the White House.
The movie is now on my short list of favorites but at the same time be warned: It can be deeply disturbing. It commands us to face the dark side of race relations and it doesn’t take much to see the prejudice in the world, not just to the black man but to the red man and the yellow man and to everything in between.
Prejudice in sports. Prejudice in the work place. Prejudice where we think there is none.
Go back 50 years, when I was but a boy and we did have “separate facilities” for blacks and whites. From Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech on that day in Washington, DC:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal....’”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (email@example.com)