What made the recent Herald Tribune article about the Sarasota High class of 1970’s 40th reunion newsworthy, was the fact that it was the first time in all those years that the rift of racial conflict between the black and white alumni was finally mended. The article calls it “a benchmark of social progress,” and continues, “The reunions have been mostly segregated for the last four decades.”
This statement shocked me into a tumble of mixed emotions and old memories. The first was shame. Forty years this segregation has continued, though the schools were integrated in 1967? I graduated in 1961 from Venice High and lived without any real consciousness that my contemporary black students from Venice were bused to Booker High in Sarasota. As I look back at the conservative 50’s, I think of myself as one of the naive sheep following the herd over the cliff. It wasn’t the Age of Aquarius yet, but ‘times they were a changin’. Why has it taken so long?
The second was pride. In the 80’s, black students were still being bused out of their home districts. My deaf son was attending the re-opened magnet school – Booker High, which he loved. His junior year he chose to attend Riverview for two reasons: one, it had the only resource teacher for the deaf, and two, he wanted to experience a larger school population and choice of subjects, to see if he could compete with his hearing peers. He could and did, but not before going through reverse discrimination. He was the only white kid on the bus and deaf to boot. He fought back, on his own, on all fronts and stuck with it until, by the end of the school year, the riders respected each other’s challenges and became good friends.
Now in my 60’s, I’ve had the opportunity to travel, teach and volunteer in both the United States and around the world and I still see the horrible inequities of life surrounding us. I was lucky to have grown up in the United States and, being an eternal optimist, I still have hope for freedom and peace worldwide. But, baby, we’ve got a long way to go.
2 thoughts on “Discrimination – Then, Now and Forever?”
Well said. Nice to have your perspective over the many decades and definite challenges. I, too, feel quite insulated from all the discrimination that continued under the radar for so long in SRQ. Didn’t really see it at all. Now I realize that was because of the careful segregation maintained in neighborhoods. Like Sarasota’s New town” as I recall Pete referring to the black dominated living area, Portland also has a specific sector referred to as “the Hood”. Long standing racial discrimination here keep black folks within a twelve block radius. Worse, this area is now surrounded by other minority enclaves and is adjacent to all the heavy industry, abandoned contamination sites, and most dense freeway traffic. The poor air quality and land quality conditions and abject poverty point out that discrimination continues and is obvious in environmental and social justice frameworks. Long way to go, indeed.
Enjoyed your last post about Epel.
It got me think about dreams, for I am a dream nut as well.
Do you have recurring dreams? I have two or three. I’m talking about recurring over 40 years now. They all have a setting that I can trace to a real place- but not because the setting is recognizable- it’s that the players and events are. Do you know what I mean?
The theme running thru these different and plots and settings are always the same though: Not enough time with the people I love.
Dreams are indeed a storage room- with little nic-nacs and do-dads that you rediscover over years and years that you remember and clarify…