2016: The 1950s In Disguise?
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Politics and Activism

2016: The 1950s In Disguise?

Pushing for progress is everyone's responsibility.

2016: The 1950s In Disguise?

A few weeks ago, I attended an event with a few friends and was looking forward to having a good time. We had talked about it for weeks, anxiously awaiting the big day. However, the night quickly took a turn for the worst.

As my friend got up to get herself a drink, a pair of women approached her. They began by striking up small talk, then one turned to the other and said, “as you can tell, she’s a little colored.” The women laughed, then one saw the horror in my friend's eyes and proceeded to “console" her by saying, “yeah but that’s okay! She’s the good shade of brown," (as if she was supposed to take that as a compliment). Coincidentally, there happened to be another girl next to them, who happened to be darker than my friend, and who heard the whole thing.

My friend happens to be mixed, making her color “acceptable” in their eyes. However, that was completely unacceptable to me. I then stood up to them and explained to them how their words and actions were not going to be tolerated, and how it is 2016, and the word “colored,” is not only wrong to begin with, but also insensitive and blatantly racist.

What the woman who called her colored said next only further infuriated me. She approached me, looked me in the eye, a woman twice my age, alcohol on her breath, and with no expression resembling an apology says to me, “I am not a racist, my baby’s dad is black.” I really hope that I do not need to explain why that remark was wrong.

In retrospect, I am not telling you this story in anger, simply to make a point that some people say and do things and do not understand or see the wrong in them. My problem with this is that it is 2016, and these things should not keep happening. Being in college, I have seen the animosity between women that are different colors, because society chooses to be “tolerant” of some over the others.

My friend should not have had to keep it in to prevent a spectacle in public. Calling people degrading names such as “colored” that takes it all back to the times of Martin Luther King Jr., segregation, murder, and warfare on a specific kind of people, is NOT a compliment. Similar to the relevant topic today about the addition of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, however having to share it with Andrew Jackson, who was himself a slave owner, actively ignored racial issues, and was responsible for the relocating of the Cherokee.

Why does she have to share it with someone who actively did just the opposite of what she did? Because America is simply not ready to allow a minority woman serve as a representation of the good that has been done in this country. Even Donald Trump mocked this by suggesting that she be put on the $2 bill instead, which is no longer printed.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of it seems like a step forward, but it is not real progress. Just like having a child with a man of color, but choosing to continue to discriminate against his people is not either. The good news is that speaking up creates change. The woman later realized what she had done, approached us once again, followed her apology with a hug, and her apology was accepted.

There are four things that need to be learned from this:

  1. Identify the wrong: Calling people racist names, then only choosing to accept some and not others, is neither progress nor acceptable.
  2. Hold people accountable: As Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." It is up to you to choose your side and most importantly speak up about what is wrong.
  3. Pushing for progress is everyone’s responsibility: It is not simply for those who are directly affected, because whether you want to believe it or not, it affects everyone. When a part of your community suffers, it puts dents in the overall welfare of it all. Be kind, respectful, and stand in solidarity with those who need you. Stand up for what is right, even if you stand alone.
  4. It is never too late to change your ways: If you change for the better, even after many many years of choosing to be the oppressor, you will be forgiven, but you need to accept your mistakes.

Lastly, remember this: The things you stand up for, and the things you turn your head away from, are all things that will determine the future of our country, and the future of generations to come. What is it that you want to see?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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