On being a Raisin in a Sea of Rice by GrannyFiled under: Native Peoples, People, Politics; Tagged as: Caroline County Virginia, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick, HBO Documentary The Lovings, Loving v. Virginia, Miscegenation, President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Racial Integrity Act of 1924, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Tea Party, Trayvon Martin
April 30, 2012
The April 16, 2012 issue of Newsweek published a picture of an African-American woman holding a sign at a Trayvon Martin protest rally that said, “I don’t apologize for my blackness and your fear.” It was a reminder to me that when my siblings and I were growing up in Doylestown we were raisins in a sea of rice. We were always cautioned to be proper in our appearance and manners. My dad would say to us, “You are colored and have to hold yourself to a higher standard.” That sign symbolized the burden we carried throughout our childhood: Apologizing.
The Civil Rights Movement forced the nation to look at how Being Black in America was an unequal condition. In 1964 President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and all was supposed to be well in the land of the free, the home of the brave. When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008 the hatred fed by prejudice and ignorance came out of the closet. He is the first President whose skin is the shade of creamed coffee and many Americans are uncomfortable in accepting that reality.
National figures of Power granted permission for this racist attitude to go viral when during the President’s September 9, 2009 speech on health care to a joint session of Congress, Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted “You lie!”. Then four months later during the President’s 2010 State of the Union message, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito dropped his façade of decorum and angrily shook his head as he mouthed the words “… not true…”. Both displays of disrespect gave subliminal approval for anyone to openly express their hateful ignorance of our 44th President of the United States.
The thick magic markers came out of desk drawers and caricatures of the President as a monkey or wearing an exaggerated Hitler mustache flooded Tea Party rallies across America. Although Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush were slapped with verbal abuse during their times in office, it never reached the level of hateful discord as continually occurs toward President Obama. Here in the 8th Congressional District, this past April 14 Representative Michael Fitzpatrick ramped up the hate level by accusing President Obama of treason.
After the murder of Trayvon Martin a deeper wound of racist fear poured out, proving that what we thought was long gone is still with us. The letters to the editor in our local paper were filled with lame excuses to justify the merciless killing of this young man. An equal number of letters were annoyed by the protests taking place in support of Trayvon. Their main message: Get over it. In their ignorance some of the letters referenced black on white murder crimes as an accepted comparison to Trayvon Martin’s death.
Growing up in Doylestown in the 50s and 60s, the possibility of a relationship between a couple where one was white and the other black was considered Tabu. Recently HBO featured a documentary of the Mildred Delores Jeter, of African-American and Rappahannock Native American descent who in 1958 married a white man–Richard Perry Loving. Their home was CarolineCountyVirginia, a state where a 1924 law disallowed the “mixing of the races”. The Lovings were arrested for miscegenation (marriage between different races). The “crime” worked its way to the Supreme Court that heard arguments on April 19, 1967. On June 12, 1967 the Court declared Virginia’s anti-miscegnation statue (The Racial Integrity Act of 1924) to be unconstitutional.
As the 21st Century came upon us, mixed couples and mixed marriages have become so acceptable, no one takes a second look. Raisins in a sea of rice is slowly disappearing. Global-wide peoples of different skin shades—white, red, yellow, black, and brown are mixing it up. Who knows—by the end of the 21st Century the skin of every human being around the planet will be the same color.
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