Thursday, March 7, 2013

how old is the master narrative?

Throughout this class we have had to contend with and fight the master narrative of the civil rights movement. It is the constant story that keeps us from knowing the full truth about the happenings of the civil rights movement. Even Baldwin talks about having to contend with this annoying story line as early as 1963 in his book Fire Next Time. He writes on page 86:
White Americans have contented themselves with gestures that are now described as 'tokenism.' For hard example, white Americans congratulate themselves on the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation in the schools; they suppose in spite of the mountain of evidence that has since accumulated to the contrary, that this was proof of a change of heart--or, as they like to say, progress.
We like to think that we pass this law, come to this Supreme Court decision and then everything is solved and schools across the nation are happily integrated. Baldwin sees this problem as early as 1963!

       If we are honest with ourselves we, Americans, are still using this mindset. Segregation is illegal and we would never dream of attacking African American bus riders these days, and we are proud of that. We boast we have an African American (or so) president. We have all these Supreme Court decisions proving how non-racist we are. We boast about how far we have come. It is the bottom line of the master narrative. Yet, we all know that there are some things that have not changed.

       Jim Crow laws and segregation are still evident today in different ways. They may have been eradicated but people are still paying the consequences. Almost all of the poverty in the US is made up of minority groups and those groups are clumped into low income housing and communities. Memphis is by and far the best example of that. Inner-city schools and communities are marked by poverty, crime, and environmental injustice. Outlying communities are as far out of Memphis as Cordova and are characterized by majority white community members, clean streets, parks, and roads, and a better school system. We are scared to see this as a racial problem, but in reality it is. It may stem from long-ago laws and out-dated violent mentalities and such, but how much progress can we really say we've experienced when you look at the inequalities that are still happening today?

No comments:

Post a Comment