Tag: The Legacy of Race

Generation After Generation, the Need for Black Parents and Children to Have ‘The Talk’ Continues

Get on the ground. Get on the ground now. I must have been speeding. No, you weren’t speeding. I wasn’t speeding? You didn’t do anything wrong. Then why are you pulling me over? Why am I pulled over? Put your hands where they can be seen. Put your hands in the air. Put your hands up.

— From “Stop and Frisk,” by the Jamaican-American poet Claudia Rankine

Ralph Cook and Grover Dunn were born in the early 1940s, and though they did not know each other until much later, they had some things in common. Both were black, both were raised in Bessemer, both have had long public careers and have been among the first blacks to hold various public posts in what used to called “the Cutoff.”

Being black, Cook and Dunn also had another shared experience – a talk from their parents about how to behave in the presence of the police. That experience is one they hold in common with black children and parents in Alabama and across the country, including black parents nearly half their age, such as Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Chris England.

As adults, Cook and Dunn have had what is commonly referred to as “the talk” with their children and their grandchildren.
“It’s a shame we have to do this,” said Dunn, the assistant tax collector in the Bessemer Division. “But we do it constantly.” Read more.

Vestiges of Segregation Remain. America Is Fighting Over Them Today.

To understand today’s protests, you have to look at yesterday’s racial inequities, historians say. And you have to realize that, as famously noted by William Faulkner, “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

America’s long history of racial inequality explains much about the intense, sometimes violent protests around the country that lately have cast a spotlight on issues of police brutality and lingering vestiges of the segregated past. It goes beyond Confederate monuments and beyond a single killing of an unarmed black man.

“Even though the George Floyd murder was horrendous and absolutely impossible to watch, it shouldn’t blind us to the fact that racial violence has been with us and our country since its inception,” said John Giggie, an associate professor of history and director of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama.

“For me, any conversation about George Floyd doesn’t begin yesterday, it doesn’t begin with the civil rights movement. It goes all the way back to when we know at least 17 enslaved Africans arrived at Jamestown in August of 1619. And there we began really an American tradition of unfreedom that has persisted in some vein all the way to the present moment as seen by the recent killings of unarmed black citizens,” Giggie said.

He’s not the only one to connect present day problems with past discrimination.

The issues thread through society.

Schools with high minority populations often are poorer than majority-white schools; buying houses can be more difficult for blacks because of lending practices; health care is not as readily available in some majority black areas; black men are incarcerated in prisons at higher rates than are white men.

This is the first of a series of stories from BirminghamWatch that will explore those legacies of race. Read more.

Conversation Begins Over What White Privilege Means in Society Today

Earlier this month, in response to the ongoing protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel delivered a monologue on his new acceptance of the term “white privilege.”

He said he’d rejected the concept because he didn’t understand it. But now, he said, he does.

“People who are white, we don’t have to deal with negative assumptions being made about us based on the color of our skin. It rarely happens, if ever. Whereas black people experience that every day,” Kimmel said.

This is perhaps a sign of how recently he — and American culture at large — have begun to grapple with the concept of “white privilege.” Read more.

Conversation Begins Over What White Privilege Means in Society Today

Earlier this month, in response to the ongoing protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel delivered a monologue on his new acceptance of the term “white privilege.”

He said he’d rejected the concept because he didn’t understand it. But now, he said, he does.

“People who are white, we don’t have to deal with negative assumptions being made about us based on the color of our skin. It rarely happens, if ever. Whereas black people experience that every day,” Kimmel said.

This is perhaps a sign of how recently he — and American culture at large — have begun to grapple with the concept of “white privilege.” Read more.