The Civil Rights Movement didn’t change things.
In my early 1970’s coming-of-age novel GEORGIE GIRL, the schools–including the boy’s school where she lives with her family–are desegregated. Georgie witnesses the backlash:
“I woke that night sheeted in sweat, my heart pounding. Entering the dining hall that evening, Lacey and I had heard some ugly talk from boys about Larry’s arrival at Browning. We had turned and glared at the boys until they’d looked away, but my stomach had roiled for Larry. How many Browning boys thought the way those boys did?
I padded to the kitchen for a glass of water.
Before I’d gone to bed, I’d told my father what Lacey and I had heard. “I thought only ignorant people mistreated other people because they were different. Browning people are educated … and civil.”
“That’s mostly the way it is. Often highly intelligent, well-educated people are motivated by pride … by vanity.” He laughed without mirth. “They feel superior to those who haven’t advanced. The paradox is that education should breed humility.
Now, standing before the refrigerator, Kelly popped into my mind. How could I think of my love life when the world seemed to be crumbling around me? How would Kelly treat Larry?
I refilled the Scooby-Doo glass, and drank deeply, considering a crayon drawing taped to the refrigerator. Ronnie had drawn a picture of kids playing tag in blades of bright green grass.
A memory stirred—the story Madame Beaulieu had told us that had us all on the edge of our seats about the English settlers’ mistreatment of American natives. But civil rights laws had been passed in the nineteen sixties. Why hadn’t they changed things?
I studied my brother’s drawing, my eyes filling. Ronnie had colored his own skin lavender and his friend Blue’s, sky blue. The faces of the other children—orange and red and hot pink—swam on the paper.
My father had known the integration process wouldn’t be easy, but he’d helped initiate it because it had been the right thing to do. The board had taken every measure to ensure Larry’s approval. I wiped my eyes on the sleeve of my gown.
It was up to the people of Browning to rise above the haze of prejudice. As I washed the water glass, I re-dedicated myself to protect Larry. But there were forty-five new kids at my school. The best way to help there was to set a good example; where there was hatred, I would sow love.”
School desegregation didn’t change things.
The passionately-wrought popular music didn’t change things.
Critical Race Theory won’t change things. It is creating a wider chasm between black and white people.
Because we live in a fallen world, there will always be hatred. I believe the only thing we can do is to be kind to everyone. And most importantly, to pray that God will bring reconciliation.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Love and light,