Generational leap

Posted: June 5, 2008 in Commentary

A few post back I talked briefly about how many of us in the Black community are raised not to trust White people. Among many of the words of advice I received from family members growing up in the 70’s was “Whatever you do, don’t trust THEM.”

Like I also mentioned, I think a lot of this stems from the same form of tribalism that can be found in most cultures where trust in your own is paramount.

I remember as a child listening to my cousins tell me that crosses would burn regularly on our front lawn when we moved to New Jersey (we lived in North Philly at the time). I was instructed by them to watch my back and not befriend them.

When we finally moved to our new neighborhood in New Jersey, my experience was nothing like what my cousins described. At that time we were one of many Black families that were moving out of Philly in droves for the suburbs, so our neighborhood was already integrated. For my parents who grew up in the Jim Crow South, seeing Black children play with White kids was something that was not only new to them, but caused them to reconsider at least some of the preconceived notions about Whites.

One of the biggest mental hurdles my generation has had to to deal with is how to properly separate the good and bad advice given to us by our parents when it comes to race relations. Having witnessed first hand what it is like to live in a country where it was considered the norm to be treated “less than” by Whites, it was quite understandable that the slightest of White infractions my generation was willing to let go served as yet another reason to our parents why ‘they’ were not to be trusted. Try as we may, we could never feel the sting of their unfortunate memories of the past.

The other day I was reminded of the trust factor while my friend and I were playing basketball. Somehow the topic of hunting came up which led into a conversation about how he comes up with every excuse in the book as a reason not to go hunting with his co-workers who invite him from time to time. I remember when I worked I worked in Georgia some years ago doing the same thing. While my friend thinks that his co-workers are very cool, he admitted that going on a trip out in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of half-drunk White guys with guns would be the best scenario to have all of the inherited fears about White people confirmed. While we were both laughing, I was reminded about that movie Ice-T did some years back.

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Comments
  1. VB says:

    If all that you say is true about your family, then I would venture to say that they need some serious help. Your child hood must have been terrible, with family members “warning” you about crosses burning and parents that were ignorant to the fact that white kids DO play with little black kids.

    To grow up in the “Jim Crow” South was indeed an experience that can be burned into your mind for a long, long time. However, from personal experience a lot of those people have the most compassion for people of other races. Going back even farther, my grandmother from the south, who lived to be 102 and suffered through the phases of racism, just barely missing slavery; I never heard her say a bad word about a White person. Nor did she encourage us not to trust them. In fact she was very compassionate when it came to white people.

    “…it was quite understandable that the slightest of White infractions my generation was willing to let go served as yet another reason to our parents why ‘they’ were not to be trusted. Try as we may, we could never feel the sting of their unfortunate memories of the past.”

    True, you and “your generation” may never feel the sting of what your parents experienced. What you and your generation were maybe able to “let go” did not always serve as a reason for the past generation to not trust White people. These were people that HAD the “Jim Crow” experience and were still able to work with and for white people. Even socializing and going to church with them. They moved into newly integrated neighborhoods and still were good neighbors, no matter the treatment. If the mistrust was there then maybe there was a reason.

    However, teaching a child or anyone to not trust someone because of their race is absolutely WRONG.

    You are a good example of someone that despite of all the negative comments made by your family members and the naïveté of your parents about race relations, you turned out to be very balanced and tolerant of all races. There is hope!

  2. Duane says:

    Your child hood must have been terrible, with family members “warning” you about crosses burning and parents that were ignorant to the fact that white kids DO play with little black kids.

    Actually I had a great childhood. Dispite what my parents may have experienced, they still taught me to treat everybody the same. Cousins that were just as ignorant as I was about living in the suburbs filled my head with such baseless suspicions. As far as my parents go, you completely misconstrued my point by suggesting that I was suggesting that they were ‘ignorant’. If you read what I actually said, my point was entering into an environment where we actually LIVED (not just worked) around Whites did pose a challenge to what they knew from their past about Whites.

    Going back even farther, my grandmother from the south, who lived to be 102 and suffered through the phases of racism, just barely missing slavery; I never heard her say a bad word about a White person. Nor did she encourage us not to trust them. In fact she was very compassionate when it came to white people.

    But unfortunately the same cannot be said about other family members who do harbor these feelings in some form or fashion.

  3. umbrarchist says:

    I have seen enough White people hide information often enough to rip off other White people to conclude that White people that trust White people are dumb.

    The problem isn’t genetics it is the psychology of European culture. The “White eyes speak with forked tongue” isn’t something that came up for no reason.

    Look at all of the automobiles. Try to imagine how many cars Americans have thrown on the junk heap in the last 50 years. Have you ever heard any economists talk about that? How can you talk about how the economy REALLY WORKS and not mention that? The big lies are in what you never hear.

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