I am the son of two people who were born and raised in the segregated south. The North Carolina small town my parents grew-up in was replicated all over the South. From South Carolina to Mississippi, blacks and whites lived and worked together, but separately. There were black schools, black churches, and black stores. There were separate black entrances, and black sections in public buildings. Black water fountains, black bathrooms and black seating in the balcony of the local movie theater. The South existed as two separate society’s one black and one white and sadly for many communities that separation still exist today, but without the signs.
I watch the Donald Trump and Roy Moore rally’s and the truth is very clear to me and neither of these men even have to say it, Donald Trump is President because that separation between blacks and whites still exist and if Roy Moore is elected Senator it won’t be because God divined it, it will be because of white, rural people, the same people who elected Trump. If it feels like we are going backwards rather forward, I truly believe we are.
My parents, both who have worked their entire life for equality are very despondent about the direction this nation is headed in. They have not only spoken out about racial inequality but have backed up their words with actions. My father, in the early 1970’s, was interviewing a black man for a job. The man came into town on the weekend for the interview and joined us at church and for lunch on Sunday. Later that day my Dad got a call from the Chairman of the Deacons at our church, a board he was a member of. He was told that our family was no longer welcomed at our church. The Baptist had kicked us out for bring a black man to worship with us and I have been a Presbyterian ever since.
My mother taught for the majority of her career at a predominately black, inner-city elementary school. As she attained tenure over the years she could have had her pick of any school in the district, easier schools, more affluent schools but she chose to stay where she was. Years after she retired I asked her why she had devoted so much of her life teaching at that little school. Her response was simple, they needed me and I needed them.
Two people who had grown up in the segregated south, two people who understood that segregation was wrong then and is still wrong today. So when my parents watch Trumps rally’s on television. When they look at the make-up of his cabinet. When they see the people he is nominating for district attorney and judicial positions they see that Trump is not even attempting to move racial equality forward in America, it is an all out effort to move this country backwards and his base not only supports his motives but demand it of him.
I got to be honest, I am starting to feel overwhelmed by the ugly, hateful and racist tone Trump has set for this country. I hate that Trump has given men like Roy Moore, the Klu Klux Klan and white supremacist a platform to spew their hateful speech. Before Trump was elected the KKK hid behind a white sheet, Moore hid behind God and the white supremacist hid behind the internet. None of these men or groups have to hide any longer. Trump has made it okay to not only share but spread their hateful views in public, hell he does it on Twitter everyday.
What hurts my parents most is the progress they perceived we as a country had made on racial injustice appears to have not just stalled but moved backwards. And though we have made some advances we still have a very long way to go.
What can I do? What can we all do? Refuse to be sucked into Donald Trump’s and Roy Moore’s vision of America. Speak-up, speak-out and fight for racial equality. The generation of my parents had to build a better America, you and I will too and the time to start was yesterday.