STAFF & GUEST BLOG

Race Relations: Are They Getting Better? Worse?

March 24th, 2010, byRON ELDRIDGE

This is an excerpt from a post first published at AnythingUrban.

I recall living in a predominately white neighborhood for a short time as a youngster. On the surface, social life was fine for me and my two younger sisters; we played with a large number of children that lived in the area — most of them were white.

But behind the curtains, the parents of these children were not so comfortable. Why? Because we were Black?

My family never received a “welcome to the neighborhood” gift. But ultimately, we did receive something that really hurt — a petition.

Several families in the area decided to flex their racist muscles by mobilizing and voicing their displeasure towards us, hoping that this would pressure us to move. The petition asked us to do just that — move.

I don’t know if folks were trying to protect their property value, their property itself, or if they simply could no longer stomach the anger as they watched their kid play with…us. We ended up moving away from the neighborhood. At the time, my mom never explained to me and my sisters why we left.

Fast Forward

I recently read about an incident where Black students were under siege on a daily basis by racist schoolmates. There was constant intimidation, from threats of “lynching” to the N-word etched on the walls of bathroom stalls.

The story is a sad one, but it especially angers me because as I grew up in the 70′s, often in segregated schools, I never experienced racism on any large scale in grade school, middle or high school. So now I’m thinking, are race relations getting worse? Does this incident represent just how much more work we still need to do to combat racism and bigotry?

Stories like this remind me that while we may not be able to reach and teach all, we can never underestimate how important it is to simply speak up and talk about it.

Rewind

As our family packed our bags to move, it never occurred to me to ask Mom why. But as a 9-year-old, I wonder if it would have helped me to know…that I would be treated differently because of the color of my skin. Sometimes I just don’t think so.

Ron Eldridge is the publisher of AnythingUrban.com. He has also written for Essence.com and RollingOut.com.

  • James

    We still have a long way to go, but this example is certainly one that raises an eyebrow. As a black man myself, I was once told that living in the east coast would someone benefit me – the belief is that racism is more overt, and the thinking was, as long as a racist can tell me in my face that he is a racist, that I would someone have an easier path to success vs. those that conceal their hate to only stab you in the back. This was in the early 70′s, but this was the general theme discussed amongst my peers.
    Today I believe that race relations are worse. We don’t discuss it openly anymore on any level. But I believe that it is this way because (as Blacks) have become more successful and we are less tolerant. Not sure if this is a double edged sword.

  • Patrice Abbott

    We as African American see other African Americans being discriminated against who do not stand up for that person and we all suffer for it. Nobody wants to be inconvenienced or get involved, but it affects all of us one way or another.
    We were a strong people king and queens what happened? Are we not your brothers keeper? Only thru” God” can we truly be free!

  • Tyrone

    The social unrest of the postwar period included labor strikes in response to low wages and poor working conditions in many industrial cities, often led by immigrants, who also organized unions. Klan members worried about labor organizers and the socialist leanings of some of the immigrants, which added to the tensions. They also resented upwardly mobile ethnic Catholics. At the same time, in cities Klan members were themselves working in industrial environments and often struggled with working conditions.

  • Michael

    We, being Black people living in North America, are sensitive to racism shown against us. As a young black man of mixed parentage, I can pass as white if i so chose to do. In shcol. I too experienced racism becuase of the color of my skin. But the racism acame from my borthers, sisters and, yes, the teachers of my father’s race. Until all people can accept who we are as an individual, racism will continue to exist and destroy humanity.

Last modified: May 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm