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I’m an old white guy, raised in a former slave state of the Deep South. I went to all-white public schools, used white-only water fountains, bathrooms, and restaurants, and sat in the front of the bus.
In my childhood, segregation was so complete, that I did not know the name of a single black person, except my mother’s maid.
I was always confused by the meanness and small mindedness of people in my formative years. In 1969 I hitchhiked to California and was pleased to find a people of much less class structure.
Outside of the South, the depth and insidious tenacity of racism is incomprehensible, and it is mostly an academic issue. The results of hundreds of years of enslavement and brutal oppression of blacks resulted in multiple generations of a poverty stricken, disenfranchised and woefully uneducated people living in concentrations of third-world conditions.
The states in the western part of our nation were all slave free and mostly settled after the Civil War. The recent political discourse now includes nation-wide divisive talk that highlights the value of white people and once again speaks with distain of people of color.
My observation is that the recent resurgence of racism escalated during the administration of our nations’ first black president. Not by something he did, but by what he was. During his presidency, I once again began to hear the foul, ignorant language of my childhood and it appears that the subsequent administration succeeded in capitalizing on the divisiveness.
I don’t think I can hitchhike my way out of this one.