Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Forty-two Ways in Forty Two Days- My Country

I had an entire post planned out about how wonderful it is to live in these United States. It is terrific for me to be a part of this country but something that just happened to make me rethink this post. I had taped and just watched an HBO Documentary called “Prom Night in Mississippi”. If you have never heard of this film, the premise is very basic. In 2008, the town of Charleston, Mississippi held its first (in many, many years) integrated prom. They did this because actor, activist and philanthropist Morgan Freeman went to the senior class and offered to pay for their prom if they chose to integrate rather than continuing with a separate “black prom” and “white prom”. The mere fact that in this day and age such a challenge was necessary intrigued me so much that I taped the show.
To be quiet honest, I was floored through the majority of it. I cannot fathom living in a town where racism is still so rampant that in this century they are still holding separate proms. I was even more taken back by the fact that after the students quickly took him up on the offer- quite a few of the white parents refused to allow their children to attend.

Watching this film tore me in two distinct directions. I was so very proud of the large majority of these kids. Despite having grown up with this abject hatred drilled into them at home- they are breaking the cycle. I was also horribly ashamed that those parents and the children who either agreed with their parents or were not willing to take a stand could potentially represent me as a Caucasian American. It sickens me that there are pockets of America that haven’t moved beyond the pre-civil rights era in the last 40 years. I just don’t understand how this can still be going on in this country.

These things I do know:

I am so very grateful to have been raised to see what is inside a person- not what color or nationality they are.

I am so very grateful to have never experienced blatant racism like this in my own life.

I am grateful that Mr. Freeman made the offer and these kids took it in an effort to break this barrier.

I am hopeful that those children will take that lesson and run with it rather than following in their family’s segregated footsteps.

I am eternally grateful to not live in the midst of such a mindset or to have raised my child in that environment.

I am hopeful that before the end of my life we can eradicate racism and hate all across the country.

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