Friday, August 26, 2016
They Are Not Failures
When I grew up in Selma, Alabama, 74 years ago, there were separate drinking fountains for white and colored. The white folks sat in the front of the bus. Selma was divided in half - one for the white families, with nice homes, lovely churches, good schools, and a ballet school that gave me an identity throughout high school. I don’t know what the other side of town looked like, because I never went there. My Dad used to occasionally come home on Friday night from the “other” side of town with containers of barbeque and brunswick stew. That was pretty much all I knew about the African-Americans who lived in Selma. Remember the movie, “The Help”? Some of my friends’ mothers had “help” but they were all but invisible to me. I left before the March, so I missed that historic event.
Fast-forward 74 years. Well, it probably didn’t fly by for those black neighbors of mine, but I was pretty much unaware of anything outside my small little bubble til I was much, much older. And now, I sit with my dear husband and watch the coverage of this Presidential election and see one of the candidates tell our friends and neighbors who are black that their lives are failures. I can tell you from my own life experience that this is absolutely not true.
My grandchildren have grown up with children of all ethnicities in their classroom, and they play together, go to each other’s birthday parties and compete with each other on Minecraft. That’s not failure.
I shop at grocery stores, department stores, electronic stores, and I see employees that are white, black, latino, and asian. I didn’t see that in Selma when I was growing up. That’s not failure.
On TV these days, I see funny, funny sitcoms about a successful black family, an Asian family, a gay couple who adopted a little girl, and dramas with leading characters who are minorities. One of my favorite late night shows is hosted by Larry Wilmore who presents the news from a black perspective. And marketing people have finally figured out that minorities have jobs, so they have money to spend, and they put brown and black faces in their commercials. That’s not failure.
When I was growing up in Selma, I thought that “going to Europe,” was only for the very rich, those people who lived in places like New York, Boston or Hollywood. I also didn’t think that black people could be doctors, professors, nurses, mathematicians, physicists, or politicians. Now, not only have I been to Europe, but black people are professionals in every discipline. That’s not failure.
Shame on Donald Trump. You should apologize to my friends and neighbors whose lives are not failures, but are successful by any measure.